Forum, March 20: Guns in the Schools in N.H.

Sunday, March 19, 2017
Guns in the Schools

On Feb. 22, New Hampshire Senate Bill 12 eliminated the need for a permit to carry a concealed handgun. Changes in the law led me to ask state lawyers to clarify the issue of guns in schools. Eventually I learned that it is legal for adults to conceal or openly carry handguns in New Hampshire schools, including school employees, unless restrictions are spelled out in employment policies.

It is also legal for students 18 or over to carry in schools, with the stipulation under federal law that they must be expelled for one year if caught. If a student is caught with a gun and suspended but refuses to leave the school, he or she can be arrested for disorderly conduct, but not for having a handgun in school.

Vermont’s handgun laws are similar except when it comes to schools. A Vermont State Police officer told us what we expected: that Vermont schools and buses are “gun-free zones.” A person in Vermont who brings a gun into a school will be arrested.

In trying to read the minds of state legislators who support the legality of weapons in school, I can only assume they believe that if bad guys have guns, then they want good guys to be armed. The logic leads to some bizarre considerations: Should we issue teachers and principals Glocks and provide weapons training? Or should we post an armed police officer in every school?

Unless the law changes, school officials need to provide guidance to teachers about meeting with armed parents in after-school meetings. They need to consider whether or not to invest in buzzer systems on doors, or what to do if a strange person is seen walking toward the school with a handgun.

School administrators and boards are responsible for the emotional and physical safety of students in schools. New Hampshire gun laws make this task more difficult. On Jan. 13, state legislator Carolyn Halstead accidentally dropped her loaded handgun in a public committee hearing in the Statehouse. Parents, students, teachers, boards and education professional organizations probably will not be able to influence her thinking on gun laws, yet legislators like her should not stand in the way of sensible change.

Keri Gelenian

Head of Schools, Rivendell Interstate School District


Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Kudos to the Lebanon Police Department and neighborhood friends.

I just want to say thanks to the Lebanon officer who stopped on his rounds to shovel an elderly person’s sidewalk after the big storm.

Then there was the neighbor who was going up and down the street clearing snow from all of the fire hydrants.

I also am blessed with neighbors who show up with their snowblowers before dawn to make sure I can get to work. It is people helping others that makes Lebanon a great place to live.

Sharon Wight


Remember the Homeless

As we are digging out from our recent huge snowstorm, please let’s give thought to those spending time in the warming shelter at The Haven. This seasonal shelter will be closing soon and with that our homeless citizens will be searching for shelter in the woods; those in need of camping equipment will be calling on Silent Warriors to help.

With spring soon to arrive, some of you will be spring cleaning; when you clean out your closets and basements and find sleeping bags, tents, tarps, cookstoves and are either upgrading or not camping anymore, would you consider donating these items to Silent Warriors? We provide these items to our homeless citizens along with personal hygiene supplies, food and much more. We can do this only through your donations of equipment as well as financial donations. Financial donations are tax deductible and can be made payable to Silent Warriors, 3 Margery Road, Enfield, NH 03748.

I would be glad to meet or pick up donations. Call me at 603-443-7637, or follow us on Facebook — silentwarriorsnhvtofenfield.

Bev McKinley


What We Should Invest In

Amos Kornfeld’s letter (“Why Increase Military Spending?” March 15) questioning the need to increase military spending sparked my curiosity.

Like Mr. Kornfeld, I agree there are some parts of the Pentagon that merit funding. For me, it’s essential to adequately fund veterans’ benefits and VA hospitals. Research to heal the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is another Pentagon line item that’s underfunded.

Here’s just one fact my research yielded that corroborates Mr. Kornfeld’s observations:

A study by Heidi Garrett-Peltier of Brown University entitled “The Job Opportunity Cost of War” concludes that $1 billion invested in education will create twice as many jobs as $1 billion invested in the military (source: fcnl.org).

A strong, vibrant economy will make our country resilient, more capable of responding to any military threat. Let’s do this by investing in the education of our children, particularly our underfunded career-technical centers and community colleges. By following this strategy, we’ll be equipping the next generation with the skills they will need to compete in a global economy.

Further, any education-related investment will create local jobs for our neighbors who spend a lot of their salaries purchasing local goods and services. This keeps dollars recycling through the local economy, creating what economists call a multiplier effect that amplifies the return on the government’s original investment.

Len Cadwallader