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School Board Updates Policy Regarding Guns at Meetings

At Thursday night's meeting, the school board voted to update a policy regarding meetings at the Chancellor Center.

After discussing the lack of language restricting anyone from bringing a gun to the Chancellor Center, where board meetings are held, the Council Rock School Board voted to update local board procedures regarding meetings. However the new language does not specifically mention guns.

"I want the public to be clear. It is against the law to carry guns in our buildings," board member Patricia Sexton said. "That is what our solicitor tells us." 

Though the language has been altered to clarify that the Chancellor Center is "a building of the Council Rock School District, [and] is covered by and subject to state laws generally applicable to the grounds and buildings of public school districts," it does not specifically mention banning weapons.

Guns are prohibited by state law at district schools, so it is implied that guns are also banned at district properties. 

The language has not been changed to say that the building should be considered as a school, but some of the board members said it should be recognized as an educational institution. At Thursday night's meeting, many children were in attendance for a merit award presentation and the singing of the National Anthem. This is one reason why Sexton said the building should be covered by the same rules as a school. 

Sexton said if someone wants to challenge that law by deliberately coming to the Chancellor Center with a gun, she expects that the administrators to take proper actions to call the police.

"Schools are special places like the capitol, like court," she added. "Our most precious people are in these buildings."

The change in language is a start, and some members hope to have additional conversations about this topic.

"It clears up how the board will move forward with the current ambiguity," Board member Bob Donnely said. Donnely joined the meeting via conference call. "This building will be treated with same kind as rules and regulations [as a school] though it is not a school. 

Other members of the board said they wouldn't vote for the change in language, as it doesn't clarify the policy on whether guns can be permitted on the property.

"This provision doesn't make any difference whatsoever," board member Richard Abramson said. "I don't see the purpose of this."

Abramson was one of four members who voted against passing this motion, along with Bill Foster, Paul Anagnostakos and Jerold Grupp.

Members of the audience that spoke during public comment were not happy with amended language, agreeing with Abramson that it isn't any clearer.

"If we're expected by governments to follow laws, we have the right to know what those laws are," John Rasiej of Wrightstown said. "Where is any clarity about this? You are just wasting our time trying to get us to believe this is clear."

Furthermore, it was requested by board member Bernadette Heenan—who told the board in October that she felt unsafe at the meetings—that a sign be posted on the building stating that guns are prohibited.

Several members wondered if it was legal, and Heenan pointed out that Central Bucks has signage like this.

Solicitor Derek Reid said "It's absolutely legal to post it," but several board members didn't want to agree to post a sign without seeing what it would say.

It was not clear at the end of the meeting what step will be taken next.

Ed November 18, 2012 at 03:42 AM
Tae Po. I respectfully totally disagree with your premise and opinions on why people are motivated to feel safe and want a gun free environment. To many, GUNS are NOT the answer to our differences. Compromise is. As for polling places and governing meetings in our divisive hateful society, they should be weapon free with police presence with no skin in the game to protect all but let free speech be the reining weapon. As for voter intimidation - see the last election. The presence of a weapon absolutely prevents the public from expressing opinions. Not sure what your point is in blaming certain parties, religious groups, or racist groups - I am talking about we the people being free to speak without those serving us carrying. Crime control - use police not wild west firecrackers. BUT may I ask have you been to Council Rock School Board meetings? Have you ever felt the gamesmanship of some of our elected to put themselves on a superior level of powering control and turn their venomous disrespect on the public they serve? I have witnessed MANY instances over the past 10 plus years when tempers went far beyond respectful conversation. As I was quoted in the Advance from my public comment, "“The strongest weapon in this room should be this microphone". You and others of course are free to think everyone being armed is somehow a better and safer America. I totally disagree and I am not alone as seen in the public's reaction to this pathetic board's action (or lack there of).
Tae Po November 18, 2012 at 05:05 AM
Ed, I understand now that you think it is official oppression. But the presence of a firearm that is holstered, let alone concealed, is not intimidation in and of itself. A firearm is a tool and can be misused like any other tool or can be used for good. It depends on the user. As firearm carry is lawful behavior, fear of it can only be described as phobic. If that is the case, then one should carry for defensive purposes. Police are agents of the government, the executive branch to be more exact. It is just as likely for a government to abuse its authority over a totally unarmed populace, even in limited areas such as meetings. Many people are afraid of clowns, yet we do not pass laws against clowns in general to assuage their fears. If a clown should act in an illegal manner, than the clown will be dealt with via due process. This concept of law is what makes us truly free. I agree with the importance of First Amendment rights just like the rest of the Bill of Rights. Even you state that the microphone SHOULD be the most powerful tool. It isn't always, however, due to corruption (social or governmental). In addition, the mere presence of a firearm changes nothing. Now, should someone start pointing it at someone other than self-defense as allowed by law, then there is a major problem. Crimes committed by lawful possessors of firearms and a License to Carry Firearms are rare. The more firearms, the less likely someone will do something.
Ed November 18, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Totally disagree. A gun is oppression. Other local representatives agree. A firearm misused has greater consequences then free speech. Your use of the word "phobic" is offensive, judgmental, and disrespectful - which reminds me of the carrier in question. To force others to do something we do not believe in so we can feel safe and have a voice - How is that a free society? I do not trust users. I do not share your opinions not your bleak outlook on of our Police. Your "safe society" meaning everyone is armed. This is free speech versus intimidation - versus a balance a power in a representative system of governing. Your clown comment is silly. The only clown is the guy causing all this by insisting to carry while fellow board members have publicly asked for "the sake of common courtesy" that he leave it at home. The presence of a weapon changes everything. As long as that gun IS in the room my First Amendment rights are not observed nor as free as his right to carry and as I stated on Thursday "the public's voice of the people SHOULD be the most powerful tool". Your opinions and praise of the gun are your opinions. I am also free to see things the other way. I hate them and feel many of their users are not to be trusted. They imbalance the power especially at a polling place or in a public meeting when free speech should be the rule. You and others have said "the more firearms, the less likely someone will do something" and I find that absorb - forgive my frankness.
the REAL VOICE November 19, 2012 at 11:50 PM
Y R the other board members afraid they might do something so STUPID again; that they may be SHOT ! Resign your post, let someone realy GOOD take your spot and lock your self in your house, there are many people out there with guns !
Ed November 20, 2012 at 12:17 AM
Please. So those that see things YOUR way that NO ONE should EVER fear a gun for ANY reason in a public meeting or anywhere else - all those free thinking Americans should simply resign and stay home and NOT have a voice in their community and school system or volunteer massive amount of time for their community — and all that those who feel everyone armed that agree with your opinions and viewpoints SHOULD run our schools and our government? Never mind free speech or equality or freedom or the entire constitution and the bill of rights ... I'll say it again to you that you might want to remember this is America and we are free. I respect the OATH TAKING ELECTED REPRESENTATIVE and all the rest of your rights to carry your weapons — but in a public meeting I believe his gun along with his temperament threatens my rights to be heard and to voice my sincere concerns without fear of him and his weapon. Again public governing meetings and polling places should ALl be gun free except the police who are trained to protect all of us equally and fairly and IN THEM I trust.

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