‘We have to do something’: Michigan school district considers arming staff

Addison — Standing on the sidewalk outside his school’s K-12 campus, superintendent Steve Guerra sweeps his hand across endless acres of farms, woods and marsh that surround his school and the 810 students inside.

Any direction Guerra stands — north, south, east or west — law enforcement is at least 20 miles away from Addison Community Schools, which sits remotely along the borders of Lenawee, Jackson and Hillsdale counties.

Guerra, who spent the summer reinforcing nearly 130 school windows with security film and adding 60 new security cameras, estimates police response time to his main school building from any three county sheriff’s departments is between 13 to 38 minutes.

“Both of those numbers are unacceptable,” Guerra said. “A school shooting is over in seven minutes. We are looking at other opportunities to keep our kids and staff safe.”

That includes arming school staff.

Addison school officials are talking about becoming the first school district in Michigan to allow its educators to carry guns.

The conversation started 18 months ago, Guerra said, when school leaders were searching for new ways to improve school safety, and it led to the creation of a safety committee comprised of three local board of education members to study and research the idea.

Then earlier this month, about 100 people attended a public meeting where students, parents and community members openly spoke of their support of and concerns about having guns inside the school.

Guerra said he has eight staff members who are concealed pistol license holders, including himself, teachers and a custodian, who have already volunteered to carry if the district moves forward with the option.

“I personally think that it would be a good idea,” Guerra said. “As the CEO and superintendent of my district, I can’t guarantee 100% safety in my district. Would employees carrying guarantee? No. It would reduce causalities.”

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