Hampton Council: ban firearms on school property

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Max Sullivan msullivan@seacoastonline.com @MaxSullivanLive

HAMPTON Municipal School Board Calls on Lawmakers to Support Legislation Banning Firearms in Schools as Legislature Prepares to Consider Legislation Providing School Districts with New Authority in Schools firearms regulation.

The council voted Tuesday 5-0 to send a letter containing this message to state legislators. MP Frank DeLuca said that the Legislature had recently passed a bill banning firearms in the House and felt that it should continue to strengthen the laws.

"We must reiterate to our representatives that we wish that a law be passed (prohibiting firearms in a certain area of ​​the school… Any school," said DeLuca.

Superintendent Kathleen Murphy said that after the meeting, the letter would contain a general recommendation regarding firearms legislation, but pointed out that a firearms bill on the land of firearms School had been filed during this session.

The bill, tabled by Representative Jacqueline Cali-Pitts, D-Portsmouth, would allow school districts, UAS and chartered public schools to adopt and enforce a policy governing firearms, components and equipment. firearms, ammunition, supplies of firearms or knives falling within its jurisdiction. Cali-Pitts said that she strongly opposed the sale of firearms such as AR-15s and bracing stocks, but tabling this bill would likely be a more effective attempt to strengthen gun laws in New Hampshire.

According to Hampton Police Chief Richard Sawyer, federal law allows local governing bodies to ban firearms on school grounds, to the extent that state law permits the use of firearms on school grounds. local entities such as school boards to adopt these prohibitions. In New Hampshire, the current law does not give this power to local school boards, which, according to Sawyer, means that people can technically carry guns in schools. He added that school administrators may require their staff and students that they do not bring weapons into school buildings. However, without modification of the law in force, they can not prevent residents.

The debate over the local authorities' ban on firearms in schools has led to fights between Statehouse in previous sessions. A bill tabled at the last session was aimed at fineing schools and municipal officials of up to $ 5,000 for promulgating their own firearms ban. The bill, which was not passed, included wording that "an increasing number of cities and local councils" were violating the New Hampshire law giving the state jurisdiction over wildlife. ;fire arms. He cited an attempt by the Lebanese School Board to adopt an "illegal ban" of firearms on school grounds.

Representative Tom Loughman, one of the Democrats who swept the four Hampton seats representing District 21's Rockingham House, said he would support the opportunity for school boards to set their own policies. in firearms. He added that he also felt that in places such as schools and the Chamber of Deputies, people other than trained security officers should not be armed.

"We do it in the courtrooms and airports for a reason," Loughman said. "Allowing anyone to have firearms in schools creates the risk that an untrained person will manipulate the weapon and cause him harm, as well as a child who finds himself in danger." 39; weapon and unload accidentally. "

The letter from the school board comes as the school district works by other means to strengthen security measures in the district. The council voted Tuesday to release a $ 100,000 mandate to add a third school resource officer, allowing an officer to monitor each of the three SAU 90 schools – Marston School, Center School and Hampton Academy .

Murphy said the current council has made school safety a priority since they've started working together. She said that member Charlotte "Peppa" Ring had expressed her concerns about firearms on school grounds when the issue of firearms during the ballots was raised. Recent upgrades also include new security cameras and more secure entrances with card readers, she said.

"This board has always put safety at the center of its goals," said Murphy. "Without a safe environment, learning is not optimal – it's their mantra since they're serving."