A NJ Principal Might Be The First ‘Good Guy With A Gun’ In His State To Start Carrying A Handgun On Campus

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guns in schoolsA 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 (?!?!). 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.

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 (photo: cenker atila / Shutterstock)


  1. K.

    February 13, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    I’ve been talking about gun control with my relatives–because many of them are gun owners and because 2 are in the military and 1 is a cop. We have differing opinions on various things, but one thing we all agreed on is that there’s a certain dangerous degree of hubris when a school official actually WANTS to carry a gun to school so that s/he can “protect” people if the need arose.

    To paraphrase something one relative said, “Everyone’s a decent shot in ideal conditions.” The assumption is that such a person would have perfect aim, while probably being shot at himself, in the chaos of having to worry about his own positioning and cover and with children and other innocent people are running around, is pretty foolish. And that’s not to mention all the situations that could arise that most people aren’t trained to handle (body shields and hostages, come to my mind).

    I am not someone who uses guns on a daily basis or has lived in places where they are used for anything other than violence so I’m sort of a lost cause of this kind of debate and in the end, gun control is somewhat far down on the issue list of things I care about. But I definitely take notice when people who do interact with firearms, like soldiers and policemen say, “You know guys? Maybe this isn’t such a good idea…”

    • CMJ

      February 13, 2013 at 1:04 pm

      My father is a Vietnam Veteran, an avid hunter, and a retired teacher. If anyone could “handle” the situation it would probably be him…except, he would NEVER even think about carrying a gun into a school. His first thought would not be to get out his gun. It would be to get his students to safety – even if that means losing his life in the process.

      I think the idea that people think a conceal and carry permit means they can accurately and safely take out a gunman open firing on a group is 100% delusional.

  2. Lastango

    February 13, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    Interesting development. Here’s a recent account of a teacher who used a firearm to defend himself and two students against two attackers:

    According to Salon, by January of this year more than 600 school staffers had applied for a new firearms training course designed specifically for them. 70% of the applicants are teachers, the rest are administrators, office staff, and guidance concilors. One-third of the applicants are women.

    • K.

      February 13, 2013 at 12:55 pm

      Wow, 7.2 million teachers in the US (+ probably another few million more people who are employed as admin) and 600 applied for the new firearms course?

      Great stats.

    • Lastango

      February 13, 2013 at 2:26 pm

      Their participation breaks the ice, and helps validate the program in the eyes of other teachers. Early support from peers is important to new programs. It will take time to refine the curriculum, book facilities, and hire and train instructors.

    • Justme

      February 13, 2013 at 3:22 pm

      I don’t care how many teachers apply for a firearm course, it doesn’t validate anything to me.

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