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State Weapons Ban Sets Stiffer
Penalties For Bringing Firearms
Onto Educational Property
BY SUSAN USHER
Starting this week, the conse
quences are stiffer for anyone caught
bringing a weapon or a "look-alike"
facsimile on educational property ?
be it a public or private school, col
lege or university campus, playing
field or other site.
A student who brings a gun on
campus, for example, not only faces
possible suspension from school for
the balance of the year or expulsion,
but could be convicted of a Class I
Generally, a Class I felony is pun
ishable by imprisonment up to five
years, a fine, or both, and has a pre
sumptive term of two years.
Also, it is now a misdemeanor ?
and depending on circumstances,
possibly a felony ? to come on
school property in a vehicle carrying
a gun in a gun rack.
While it is already against Bruns
wick County Board of Education
policy to bring weapons of any type
on campus. West Brunswick High
School Principal Ed Lemon said ac
tivation of the changes in state law
means that "how we handle it will
Not only will students face short
or long-term suspension for viola
tion of the weapons ban, the school
will bring charges against students
or other perpetrators as provided by
"I think we would lie in violation
of the law if we did not charge
them," said Lemon.
District Attorney Rex Gore is of a
"If a child is at school with a
firearm or other weapon," he said
Monday, "they had best prosecute or
I had better not find out about it.
"This weapons ban on campus is
too important. My office will have a
real serious problem with anyone in
the school system who confiscates a
firearm or weapon and doesn't re
port it to the appropriate law en
forcement agency. I hope the school
board will reflect that and give their
people the authority to go ahead and
do what they need to do.
"I'm not going to have children's
blood on my hands. Folks needs to
feel like their children are safe at
school and my office is going to do
everything it can to ensure that."
As of Wednesday, it became a
Class I felony for any person to pos
sess, or carry, openly or concealed,
any gun, rifle, pistol or other firearm
of any kind, or any dynamite, car
tridge, bomb, grenade, mine or pow
erful explosive, on educational prop
erty. Excluded are BB guns, air ri
fles or air pistols.
It is also a Class 1 felony for any
person ? including a parent ? to
"cause, encourage, or aid a minor
(under age 18)" to possess or carry a
firearm or powerful explosive.
However, it will be considered a
misdemeanor rather than a felony, if:
?that person is not a student at
tending school on the educational
property (a student is defined as
someone who has been enrolled in
school or who has been suspended
or expelled within the last five years
from school, whether the person is
an adult or a minor);
?the firearm is not concealed as
defined by state statute;
?the firearm is not loaded and is
in a locked container, locked vehicle
or locked firearm rack on a motor
?the person docs not brandish,
exhibit or display the firearm "in
any careless, angry or threatening
It is also considered a misde
meanor for any person to possess or
carry, whether openly or concealed,
a BB gun, air rifle, air pistol, bowie
knife, dirk, dagger, slingshot, leaded
cane, switchblade (a knife with one
or more blades which open automat
ically by release of a spring or simi
lar contrivance), blackjack, metallic
knuckles, razors and razor blades
(other than for personal shaving), or
any sharp-pointed or edged instru
ment, except unaltered nail files and
clips or tools used only to prepare
food or for instruction or mainte
It is also a misdemeanor for any
one ? parent or otherwise ? to cause,
encourage or aid a minor to possess
or carry one of the above-named
Home schools are exempted from
the rules, as are weapons used for
educational or school-sanctioned
ceremonial purposes, armed forces
personnel, officers and soldiers of
the militia and national guard, law
enforcement personnel or private
police employed by the school,
when acting to discharge their offi
cial duties. This includes Junior
Superintendent Ralph Johnston
said that school system officials will
be expected to uphold the law, re
porting any weapons found on cam
puses and filing charges as required
In some ways, he said, school
weapons policies are stricter, cover
ing a wider variety of potential
weapons, and ranking knives with
guns and powerful explosives.
For example, a student in grades 6
through 12 will be suspended for the
balance of the school year if caught
bringing a kn;fe, firearm or explo
sive onto school property.
Students who bring on school
property some other weapon, or
anything used as a weapon, may be
suspended long-term or, if mitigat- I
ing factors are present, may receive j
some other disciplinary action. Any i
student who encourages another stu
dent to bring weapons to school
faces the same consequences.
For younger students (grades K
5), the principal is to use his or her
discretion in determining what to do.
Johnston said the change in law
has prompted school system offi
cials "to get really active" in looking
for ways to provide an alternative
educational setting for students who
are expelled from school for the bal
ance of the school year or a lesser
time because they were found guilty
of bringing a weapon on campus.
While not obligated by law to
provide an alternative setting,
Johnston said he feels the schools
have an ethical obligation to do so.
"You want to provide it," he said.
"If we don't educate we perpetuate
the problem. We need to try and sal
vage and reclaim these children."
Assistant Superintendent Oscar
Blanks is working with principals to
develop alternatives to the regular
classroom that would involve using
a limited amount of funds while in
suring a high quality of teaching, he
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