Campbell County School District’s top administrators participated in a week of firearms training this past summer, which will be one of the many factors the board will consider when determining whether or not to allow staff members to carry concealed weapons in school facilities.
“We didn’t feel comfortable saying, ‘Yes, let’s do this,’ without actually having some skin in the game and actually experiencing the same thing some of our people may if this is a direction we want to pursue,” said Deputy Superintendent Kirby Eisenhauer, speaking for himself as well as Superintendent Alex Ayers.
The discussion began after Wyoming statute 21-3-132 was passed by the state Legislature in 2018. The law allows school districts the freedom to decide whether or not they will allow employees to carry concealed firearms on school property.
Some school districts in Wyoming acted immediately to put the law into practice. However, Campbell County is taking a slower, more measured approach to consider all the impacts prior to making any changes in district policies.
Along with the two administrators, four principals and one vice-principal participated in the week-long firearms training offered by the Gillette Police Department in June. Eisenhauer explained the first day was spent in a classroom setting, where they learned about past incidents and school shooter behavior as well as firearms safety, handling and stance.
As the week progressed, so did the training, culminating in real-life simulations, in which participants had to decide whether or not to fire their weapon.
The experience level of those who participated varied from experienced hunters to novice. However, all were sobered by the weight of the responsibility the training instilled in them.
Ayers told the board about his experience in the training, but said he would not take a position one way or the other, because he thought the discussion to date has been invaluable. It’s a conversation that will continue next with the community, he added.
“I will tell you the intent of the conversations and the meetings was not to convince anybody, to be pro or con with regard to this topic,” Ayers explained. “I was really pleased with the way law enforcement approached that. They weren’t trying to convince us to take their position; they were simply giving us facts and information and repeatedly said, ‘We’re not suggesting or telling you what you should do.’”
At the end of the board’s discussion on the matter, Eisenhauer reiterated that the district is nowhere near making any type of recommendation on the possibility of allowing concealed carry in schools. He said in talking with the principals, it’s safe to say school staff is close to a 50-50 split on the issue.
Chair Anne Ochs said she thought that guestimate was probably similar to the sentiment in the community.
Eisenhauer said the safety committee for the school district will continue to meet frequently to improve school safety.
No public hearings have been scheduled at this time.