In the wake of last week’s mass school shooting in Florida, Kern High School District Trustee Mike Williams is calling on state legislators to reverse a bill passed last year that revoked local superintendents abilities to allow Concealed Carry Weapon permit holders to bring firearms on public school campuses — a move he contends makes schools less safe.
In a Facebook post Williams wrote Friday that has been shared more than 1,600 times, he criticized “Democrats in Sacramento and Governor [Jerry] Brown” for preventing KHSD from allowing teachers to carry firearms on campus.
Williams could not be reached for comment on this story.
The Kern High School District board of trustees passed two gun-related policies in 2016. The first allowed non-employee CCW permit holders to carry firearms on campus after securing a $1 million insurance policy — 26 people signed up. The second policy authorized teachers holding CCW permits to bring firearms onto campus after undergoing specialized training — no teachers have been authorized.
Those policies were passed under an exception made in the state Gun-Free School Zone Act that allowed superintendents to grant CCW permit holders permission to carry firearms on campus.
KHSD was among a handful of districts to allow firearms on campus.
Williams and other trustees championed those policies as a pathway to making KHSD schools safer since it would no longer be considered a “gun-free zone,” which mass shooters have targeted in the past.
Scores of community members disagreed, attending meetings that, at times, turned heated and calling on trustees to abandon a plan they said would make students feel less safe.
Then, after the policies attracted the attention of Democratic legislators, a bill was passed in 2017 removing the superintendent’s exemption.
It made moot a months-long, at-times-overwrought debate over whether KHSD would allow teachers to be armed, and the 26 non-employees authorized by KHSD to carry concealed firearms on campus had their rights revoked.
“I proudly championed this policy and voted yes along with trustees Phillip Peters and Chad Vegas,” Williams wrote in his Feb. 16 Facebook post, which rekindled the school gun debate in the comments section. “Call your local CA state senator and assembly person (especially Democrats) and tell them to allow teachers with a CCW permit and special training to be allowed to carry on campus.”
The local board policies passed in 2016 allowing firearms on KHSD campuses have not yet been rewritten to reflect new state laws, Williams said.
Some have questioned whether keeping those policies in place would constitute a violation of state law.
Nikki Moore, a first-amendment lawyer with the California News Publishers Association, said that it likely wouldn’t put KHSD out of compliance unless it was acting upon the policy by permitting teachers to carry on campus.
“It’s not unlawful per se to have an unlawful law on the books,” Moore said. “It’s just about the enforcement or enactment of those laws. It’s not a standing violation.”