Montana Legislator O’Neil Proposes Letting Students Keep Guns in Their Cars

Jerry O'Neil (Source: State of Montana)

Jerry O’Neil (Source: State of Montana)

When we last left Montana State Rep. Jerry O’Neil, he was proposing corporal punishment instead of jail time for some convicted criminals. That idea hasn’t gone over well so O’Neil has a new idea this week – let students leave guns in their cars while at school.

Current law can result in a suspicion for up to one year if a student is caught with a gun at school. House Bill 384 would change that drastically. It isn’t just that students can leave guns in their cars. The bill mandates gun lockers at the schools, as the Billings Gazetter reports:

The bill also would allow schools to establish special gun lockers for students to use. And the measure requires that expulsion proceedings for bringing a gun to school must include an evidentiary hearing, and prevents districts from disciplining students for fake weapons, such as shaping their hands into pretend guns.

For most schools, it is straightforward. If caught with a gun, then that’s a suspension. Zero tolerance policies don’t need evidentiary hearings because there is no excuse for bringing a weapon onto school property. O’Neil’s bill would mix up this up. Under O’Neil’s bill, guns would not be discouraged, but even encouraged. How much more encouragement does someone need than a school providing a gun locker?

According to O’Neil’s bill, the gun can come on school property but as long as it is in a locked location, then it really isn’t there.

A firearm that is secured in a locked container approved by the district or in a locked motor vehicle the entire time that it is on school grounds or property, except while in use for a school-sanctioned instructional activity, is not considered to have been brought to school or possessed at school.

The gun can be on school grounds but as long as it is locked, then it really was not brought onto school property. Once again, a lawmaker is taking a walk into an Orwellian world where reality is not real.

Leaving guns in cars parked at schools isn’t going to make the schools any safer either. Someone who wanted to go on a shooting rampage isn’t going to be detered by knowing that guns are in cars in the parking lot. The shooter would be in the classroom while guns are in the cars.

Besides, knowing that guns are in parked cars is an invitation for someone to break into the cars and make off with weapons.

Fortunately, not everyone in the Montana legislature thinks this is a good idea. Rep. Jenny Eck noted that guns and schools are not a good mix.

“We’re dealing with kids,” Eck said,”who tend to be more emotional, who tend to react too quickly to things that are going on. And to make it easier for them to get a gun would increase the likelihood of their being tragedies in our schools.”

But if the guns are in lockers or cars then they really aren’t there at the schools, according to O’Neil’s bill. So there’s nothing to worry about, right?

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