By CLAIRE ST. JOHN
By a 3-2 vote, a decision to ban firearms from Sonora High School District campuses for any reason was overturned last night.
The zero-tolerance policy, passed in March, caused veterans, teachers and law enforcement officers to ask board members to reconsider their decision.
Most argued that a knowledge of firearms could actually prevent accidents and injuries.
Trustees spent the last five months considering every angle of the issue, and while two held firm to keeping guns off campus, the majority voted to return to the original policy allowing guns on campus with the principal's permission and strict supervision adding that a student must have the superintendent's permission as well.
Last night's meeting was the first time a significant number of community members argued in favor of the zero-tolerance policy passed in March.
Many said there is no real reason for having a gun on campus.
One parent said the district has more pressing issues to worry about besides whether kids can form a gun club.
"What I heard from all the parents, all of them saw no reason to have guns on campus," said Rosetta Bannwarth of Sonora. "In this budget, focus on education rather than extracurricular activities."
Not everyone agreed.
Veteran Al Koski said a complete education is the reason guns should be in school.
"Our children do need proper familiarity with all aspects of this country and firearms," he said. "Not many of them can afford to go to these gun clubs. The best place to learn are these schools."
Trustee Ed Clinite, who originally voted against the zero-tolerance policy, said neither policy would prevent a student from bringing a concealed weapon onto campus.
At Colorado's Columbine High School, the site of a 1999 school shooting that left both students and teachers dead, Columbine's school board had enacted a gun policy similar to the one Sonora High trustees reinstated last night.
"A policy will not keep that sort of massacre from happening," Clinite said.