Talon News - Good Local News

By Jacque Ritchie

Guns on Campus?

AHS Speaks Out


February 23, 2018

Jared "Slim" Slim student at AHS shares his views. PHOTO: J. Ritchie


By Jacque Ritchie, TALON

In the wake of yet another campus massacre in Parkland, Florida this past week, TALON asked students and staff at AHS to reflect and weigh-in on the future.

"I would definitely feel safer with a teacher with a conceal carry license around," said Aztec High School senior Jacob Feil. "Of course the teachers would have to be trained and cleared and everything, but then it would be OK...right now all we have are security guards who aren't even armed, what's that gonna do? I mean how does that help when you have a shooter?" Feil said, "Yeah, I would most definitely feel more secure if the teacher's had guns."

As recently reported, AHS English teacher Cynthia Mortenson has become a vocal advocate of arming qualified school staff. Mortenson who has served both in the military and as a police officer is active in a recently organized conceal carry movement. Substance abuse counselor and Bloomfield Municipal School District substitute teacher, Holly Gregory is a rallying force behind the local conceal carry campaign and is planning marches in Bloomfield and Aztec in the near future.

AHS student Jared Slim said, "I'm not really that scared about going to school. It's my school you know? I'm not scared that's all." Slim continued "But I don't think it's a good idea for teachers to have guns, I just don't think we need to go there." Slim said he did not think that the sale of assault weapons should be banned, "Hey, it's not the guns that kill people, it's the people that kill people."

SJC School Superintendent Kirk Carpenter said that the risks outweigh possible security advantages when it comes to guns on campus. "It's a very complex issue..." Carpenter said in a recent telephone interview with TALON. "Most importantly, we always have the safety of our students and staff as our top priority...what we need to do is to address how to improve security for our schools, which we have done and are actively going forward to achieve, but moreover, we need to focus on prevention before an event like this occurs and that means working with the parents, the community, law enforcement and other social service and community based agencies to identify a possible threat before a tragedy happens." While Carpenter would not go so far as to say he was totally opposed to the possibility of sometime in the future having teachers legally carrying firearms on campus he said, "This is not an idea we should entertain without a great deal of thought and study. What are the parameters? What kind of training should be required? Do we even have laws on the books in NM that would support such a move?" Carpenter said, "In the end it's all about what is best for our students and staff."

According to Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence: New Mexico Concealed Handgun Carry Act does not allow a concealed carry licensee to carry a concealed handgun on the premises of a school or pre-school, including grounds, playing fields and parking areas.

Should teachers or staff carry firearms on AHS campus? AHS Vice Principal Brenda McNeal said, "Those are personal political opinions and stances that they (teachers) are free to express out-of-school...Our teachers have the right to their opinion." As far as the official school position, McNeal stated, "We as a school stand behind our superintendent on this subject."


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