Another View -- Martha Hennessey: Let local school districts set gun policiesBy MARTHA HENNESSEY
March 07. 2018 12:00AM
Gov. Chris Sununu opposes local control when it comes to school safety. I am respectfully asking him to reconsider.
I offered an amendment to the safe school zones legislation, Senate Bill 357, allowing our school boards to decide whether firearms should be allowed in their safe school zones. Because New Hampshire is not what is called a “home rule state,” our school boards only have the authority that is expressly designated to them. Under existing state law, school boards do not even have the authority to prohibit firearms in safe school zones. That should change. While this measure won’t solve all of our school safety problems, the very least we can do is allow school boards the ability to debate and discuss school safety at a local level. Instead of Gov. Sununu creating yet another “task force” to study yet another issue, I encourage Gov. Sununu to get behind real, common sense proposals, right now.
Gov. Sununu wouldn’t be alone in his political party. At a recent news conference, the Republican Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, endorsed local control for school boards on the issue of guns and prohibiting firearms in schools. Gov. Sununu should follow suit.
If this were to pass, we don’t know how many school boards and communities would prohibit firearms in safe school zones, but at least they would have a choice. If I were on a school board I would heed the words of NRA Executive Director Wayne LaPierre, when in 1999 he said that: “We believe in absolutely gun-free, zero-tolerance, totally safe schools. That means no guns in America’s schools. Period.” My oh my have things changed. But, whether it’s 1999 or it’s 2018, common sense should always prevail. It’s not time to arm teachers; it’s time to arm school boards with an actual ability to make decisions about school safety. I hope Gov. Sununu is listening, as our constituents and our children are demanding no less.
Sen. Martha Hennessey, D-Hanover, represents District 5.