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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 16, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Again this story is not complete ... - "restricting anyone from bringing a gun to the Chancellor Center" .... I say again the issue IS NOT about "anyone" carrying. This issue is and has always been about a single board member carrying for years his weapon to meetings while being elected and taking an oath to serve those he opposes that he openly has disrespected as well as those he favors. For other points on this article: http://www.TrueToAll.com/patch.pdf - I found last night a total disgrace and I was disgusted being there to watch this theatre. WE need to not just hope - but we need to get to work to change this and make governing about representation and service to all. As I said the strongest weapon in ANY public meeting should be the voice of the people - and NOT a board member's concealed weapon. Best idea - stop blogging and get involved. But in the mean time, watch the meetings ... http://bvid.crsd.org
The Illuminati November 16, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Maybe if everyone carried a gun to the meeting things would be a lot more civil?
Tae Po November 17, 2012 at 04:23 AM
18 Pa.C.S. § 912: Possession of weapon on school property (a) Definition.--Notwithstanding the definition of "weapon" in section 907 (relating to possessing instruments of crime), "weapon" for purposes of this section shall include but not be limited to any knife, cutting instrument, cutting tool, nunchuck stick, firearm, shotgun, rifle and any other tool, instrument or implement capable of inflicting serious bodily injury. (b) Offense defined.--A person commits a misdemeanor of the first degree if he possesses a weapon in the buildings of, on the grounds of, or in any conveyance providing transportation to or from any elementary or secondary publicly-funded educational institution, any elementary or secondary private school licensed by the Department of Education or any elementary or secondary parochial school. (c) Defense.--It shall be a defense that the weapon is possessed and used in conjunction with a lawful supervised school activity or course or is possessed for other lawful purpose. ______________________________________ Please Note (c) Defense -- above.
Tae Po November 17, 2012 at 04:35 AM
18 Pa.C.S. § 6120: Limitation on the regulation of firearms and ammunition (a) General rule.--No county, municipality or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunition or ammunition components when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of this Commonwealth. (Edited for brevity...) __________________________________ It is up to the state to decide, not policy set by a school board, apparently. It is possible that the policy will be in violation of state law depending on how 18 PA C.S. section 912 is defined through case law. At face value, it would seem to violate it. IANAL.
Ed November 17, 2012 at 04:53 AM
Tae Po - Confused. What is your point? What defense does an elected official have to NEED to be armed at a public meeting where he is elected and has taken a sworn oath to represent and serve the public including those he favors and those he opposes without intimidation? In fact at a public meeting why does ANYONE need to be armed? (If like others you are going to force me / everyone to carry a gun that I hate in order for me and others to have a equal voice in a civil public meeting - how is that called a FREE society and how is that civility?) As I was quoted in the Advance (http://www.buckslocalnews.com/articles/2012/11/16/the_advance/news/doc50a68942f41a0163458108.txt?viewmode=fullstory) from my public comment, "“The strongest weapon in this room should be this microphone". By the way the best quote on this sad show of hypocrisy, showmanship, and feel good governing instead of actually doing something that was not included in any of the 3 articles (Patch, Advance, and Courier http://www.phillyburbs.com/news/local/courier_times_news/new-cr-policy-prohibits-guns-at-administrative-center/article_45112201-8495-5dca-8b08-ab716683d5dc.html) was John Rasiej's comment in pointing out how the weak policy's wording that only stated the obvious said "What's next, a policy that the building is subject to the law of gravity?" It was pathetic to sit and watch and I find none of this funny and find the waste being the lame policy and the board's actions or lack there of.
Ed November 17, 2012 at 05:07 AM
You finished your post ... Yes I agree it IS a state issue and I have been on our state reps in Harrisburg to look into making all public meetings gun free - All of our free speech rights without intimidation in a public meeting should outweigh the NEED for anyone to carry - especially those elected to serve the public they are arming themselves against. Seems a bit obvious to me. If you need a gun present - hist a cop. But the lame flawed policy they passed last night says absolutely nothing only states they follow state law (duh) so it violates nothing and in reality the gun still could enter the room as it has for years. Nothing changed except now we know it was and could be there. And according to the board discussion it will be the administration's responsibility to report the presence of the gun in the room - which is crazy to think about a school administrator padding down someone they suspect - talk about violating our rights and freedoms. It's a mess and what they did was just a big nothing. I await the carrier to be the one to sue the district to grandstand an ego as THAT theatre is what I think this is ALL leading to.
Michele Sheehan November 17, 2012 at 12:25 PM
Hard to believe this discussion is taking place. Who is the board member that carries a concealed weapon. No guns! Case closed!
Ken November 17, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Has anyone asked the local police depart, Newtown Borough, the county prosecutor, or the state attorney general of their position on this issue since they would be the oens who choose to prosecute or not?
Sandy November 17, 2012 at 09:38 PM
If this board member feels paranoid enough to carry a gun, maybe he should be investigated as to why? I support the right to bare arms, but this is way to extreme. Maybe he should take some karate classes if he feels that threatened.
Kara Seymour November 17, 2012 at 09:47 PM
County prosector did not press charges for the incident that occurred over the summer when board member Jerold Grupp had a concealed weapon on district property, according to a courier times report. http://www.phillyburbs.com/news/local/courier_times_news/cr-board-member-grupp-won-t-be-charged-for-taking/article_80f8284d-5d2c-50fb-9b38-25cf0ada3cd7.html?mode=jqm
Tae Po November 18, 2012 at 02:47 AM
Ed, Just like being allowed to go to the polls armed, a governmental meeting is no different. There may be a day that certain parties will intimidate voters or prevent people from expressing opinions and motions at meetings. Gun control was established to keep the newly freedmen (blacks) down and cowering in US history. So we even have precedence for what I have stated. But the abuse could be any group whether religious or racist or even the government itself. Crime alone is reason enough for people to carry.
Tae Po November 18, 2012 at 03:01 AM
Please see this youtube link of raw video of a gunman at a Florida School Board meeting. Your boardmember is not as paranoid as you think. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmE_efB5bvE Cut and paste if it doesn't post as a link or search gunman at board meeting on youtube.
Ed November 18, 2012 at 03:05 AM
Sandy - Best idea is to watch the meetings ... http://bvid.crsd.org ... I believe on the Nov 1 meeting when Northampton School Board Director FINALLY stopped all the board's tap dancing and unwillingness to DEAL with the issue and he put the cards on the table and asked for some common courtesy of fellow board members, the public, and the children present to keep the gun home - the carrying board member gave his reasons which by the way has offended many who don't agree JUST because of a belief one NEEDS to carry. Watch it to hear the facts instead of reading articles that miss so much. His reasons for me did not resolve the "intimidation" (words from several other governing officials) his concealed weapon offer to those offering public comment sometimes in dispute of his actions and too often his disrespect of the public - but view for yourself.
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 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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