MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, President Trump continues to say one solution to school violence is arming teachers. Last month the president said in a speech an armed teacher would have stopped the Parkland, Florida, shooting.
“A teacher would’ve shot the hell out of him before he knew what happened,” Trump said last month.
Minnesota is actually one of the few states in the country that does allow teachers to carry weapons if they have permission from a school principal or top administrator.
Dig deep into state statutes and you will find 609.66 subdivision 1d, item 8, which says “dangerous weapons” can be carried in school with the “written permission of the principal or other person having general control and supervision of the school.”
Retired Professor Joe Olson, a former NRA board member, wrote the provision as part of Minnesota’s 2003 permit to carry law.
“Basically what it says is you can have dangerous weapons, firearms, knives, BB guns, replica firearms in a school as long as you have permission of the principal,” he said.
Olson says he personally knows of at least two Minnesota teachers who have the written permission and are currently carrying guns in schools, but would not give us their names.
WCCO asked, “Could there be a lot more?”
“Yes there could be more,” Olson said.
WCCO asked, “Do you have any idea of how many?”
“No,” he said.
WCCO thought the Minnesota Department of Education would be able to tell us how many teachers and staff have gotten that written permission and would be able to tell us the names of the schools where teachers and staff are currently carrying firearms. That is not the case.
In a statement, the Minnesota Department of Education said, “We do not know how many individuals are carrying weapons legally in Minnesota schools under this law. The statute does not require a district to report this information to the state or other authority.”
We spoke with the president of Education Minnesota, the 80,000 member state teachers union.
“If you hadn’t started asking questions about this I don’t know if any of us would have been aware of this,” Denise Specht said. “There is no requirement for training or reporting or disclosing this to parents and staff it just seems wrong.”
WCCO asked, “Did you know about this provision?”
“No,” Specht said.
House DFL Minority Leader Melissa Hortman, a strong advocate for tougher gun laws, says she was also not aware of this part of the Minnesota permit to carry law. She says in the long term this part of state law needs a fix.
“I don’t think it is a provision of law that protects kids if it was we would not have had the shootings we have had in Minnesota,” Hortman said.
Minnesota has had two deadly school shootings. In September 2003 at Rocori High School two people were killed and in 2005 in Red Lake where 10 people were killed and seven were wounded.