PROVIDENCE, RI- This morning, Governor Gina M. Raimondo took executive and procedural action to ban all firearms from public PK-12 school buildings and grounds, except those carried by law enforcement officers. This decision came in response to uncertainty among education leaders and community stakeholders, and a lack of consistent practice across district lines.
Here's what local leaders and advocates are saying:
Larry Purtill, President of NEARI: "We are pleased that the Governor listened to the concerns of educators across the state and that she is taking action. NEARI joins with the Governor, Commissioner and law enforcement in supporting the prohibiting of concealed carry in schools. Guns, except for law enforcement, do not belong in schools. The answer to the horrific shootings that take place in our schools is not more guns, but fewer. Parents should have the expectation that when they put their child on the bus in the morning, they will return in the afternoon. This will help ensure that. Rhode Island is only one of four states that allow this and by ending it today, Rhode Island will have taken another step toward protecting our students and educators."
Steven M. Paré, Providence Commissioner of Public Safety: "As Providence Commissioner of Public Safety, I fully support this policy and thank Governor Raimondo and Commissioner Wagner for their action to prohibit firearms from schools, which will enhance the safety of students, teachers and staff members. This policy will also serve in eliminating unnecessary dangers that police officers may face when working in or responding to calls for service at schools. There is no place for weapons of any kind to be kept within our schools other than in the possession of trained law enforcement officials."
James Manni, Narragansett Town Manager: "As a Town Manager, former law enforcement officer and citizen of Rhode Island, I fully support the policy announced by Commissioner Wagner today. It is a common-sense approach to make our schools safer. As one of the co-chairs of the Gun Safety Working Group, I can report that this is one of the many recommendations we've been studying."
Katherine Kazarian, State Representative, District 63: "I am proud of Governor Raimondo and Commissioner Wagner's latest action to protect our children, teachers, and parents by prohibiting guns on school property. Our government employees have this protection; why shouldn't the same protection be afforded to our children? The debate on a national level, suggesting more guns in schools, is simply outrageous. There is nothing more heartbreaking than hearing children say they do not want to go to school because they are afraid they will be shot. We need to do all that we can to prevent gun violence and I am very relieved that Governor Raimondo understands the need and has acted to protect our children. I am looking forward to returning to the legislature so that we may continue our work on this issue."
Colonel Assumpico, Rhode Island State Police: "The Rhode Island State Police supported legislation proposed last year to ban anyone except law enforcement officers from carrying weapons in schools. The policy announced by Commissioner Wagner today is fully consistent with our commitment to keep schools safe."
Phil Auger, North Kingstown Superintendent: "As the head of a public school department, I have no greater priority than the safety of our students, and over my tenure as a school administrator, I have regularly consulted with experts on best practices in school safety. It is clear to me that in the best interest of safety, the only guns we should allow in our schools are those in the possession of law enforcement officials."
Karen Tarasevich, West Warwick Superintendent "As Superintendent, I take the responsibility of the safety and security of our students and staff extremely seriously. This conversation is continually at the forefront of our work. Through our diligent research into the national data on school security and our partnership with local law enforcement, we believe the only guns in our schools should be that of trained law enforcement personnel. Our focus needs to be on using resources to support the social emotional learning and needs of our students to ensure the well-being of our school community."
Chief Mendoca, Central Falls Police: "As a police chief in Central Falls, I fully endorse and support this policy."