A New Jersey school board is inching towards getting one of those “good guy[s] with a gun” — as the NRA famously said — in one of their schools. And by inching, I mean the Passaic Valley Regional School Board voted 8-0 on the first vote. So I guess here comes the “good guys” with guns — provided that the second vote mimics the first.
NBC news reports that Raymond Rotella has been a high school principal for three years. Prior to that, he served 25 years with the Little Falls Police Department. And he might be the “first administrator in the state” to have permission to carry a gun on campus, according to NBC. However both New Jersey School Boards Association and the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police say that they cannot confirm if Rotella will be the first principal to carry a gun at school given that they apparently don’t track if administrators can carry guns at school (?!?!).
NorthJersey.com reports that moves like this one of are just one of many that the school district is considering following the Newtown shootings. Rotella sees this decision by the school board as a way of incorporating him into the school’s lockdown drill:
Rotella has said the gun policy is a means of reassessing the school principal’s role in a crisis. During a lockdown, he said in an interview earlier this month, he typically would be required to lock himself in his office or a classroom. Under this policy, he said, he would become an integral part of the school’s security plan.
“The recommended action is to hunker down, but that is not the recommended direction here as long as Mr. Rotella is on the job,” Superintendent Viktor Joganow said.
The schools chief told the outlet that they are looking to have Rotella possibly “slow down” a threat on campus, not morph into “Superman.”
Of the unanimous initial vote, only one person reportedly spoke out against the decision:
“Are we going to arrange for more guns after this?” said Kelly Predojevic of Woodland Park. “Will more guns mean less violence?”
Some students at the meeting reportedly said that the measure would make them feel safer. But among the opposed to this decision is also New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police, who say that the only armed person on a campus should be an on-duty officer who must answer to a police department. Word:
“A retired officer may be able to carry a weapon, but that does not give him more authority than any other civilian,” said Mitchell Sklar, the association’s executive director. “With police officers, we know they are up to date on their use-of-force training and their firearms qualifications.”
Rotella has reportedly had a concealed weapons permit since 2007 when he retired as sergeant of the department’s firearms training unit. Nevertheless, if the precedent is making chiefs of police nervous, I’m going to be quivering in my boots too.
The school board will give their final approval during a vote in March. And it’s already been clarified that should Rotella get his handgun toting approval, his successor will not just inherit the Principal Gun — nor the right to carry one. Well, that’s comforting. I guess.