Gun free zone

A gun was found Thursday morning at Stillwater Junior High School. The gun, according Stillwater Public Schools, was found in an office by an employee of the school and belonged to another of the school’s employees. SPS said the employee who found it notified administration, who then notified the Stillwater Police Department.

"The Stillwater Police Department is conducting an investigation and will determine if and what charges may be filed," an SPS release states. "Stillwater Public Schools will cooperate fully with the investigation and supports any action that may be taken."

According to Stillwater Public School Policy, under the Guns Free School Act, it is unlawful for “any person, except a peace officer or other person authorized by the board, to have a firearm or weapon in his/her possession on any public school property or while in any school bus or vehicle used by the school for transportation of students or teachers.”

The incident comes on the heels of major gun legislation in Oklahoma, but none that would allow anyone who isn’t law enforcement to carry at the school. Gov. Kevin Stitt earlier this year signed into permitless carry into law that would allow, effective in November, most Oklahomans to carry firearms with a license. In March, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed House Bill 2336, which would allow local school boards to approve anyone they deem necessary to carry regardless of the level of training.

Commenters on the News Press social media posts called Thursday’s incident irresponsible gun ownership.

“We use to have guns in our vehicles on school property, as students. The small town next to my home town chose individual teachers and paid for them to get their carry conceal so that they may carry on campus in case something were to ever happen. I don’t see an issue with a staff member carrying,” Sarah Recktenwald wrote. “However, I believe there are steps need to be made for it. At least handling the firearm responsibly and not just setting it around in random places. It shouldn’t be out at all unless a situation arises where it is needed.”

Others would prefer a more hardline approach.

“I do not think we should have guns in our schools-period. It is too hard for police in an active shooter situation to determine who the good guys are vs. the bad guys,” Lori Wieder wrote. “Law enforcement officers are trained to determine when to shoot and are also trained in how to handle the aftermath of a shooting. Joe Citizen does not. If another employee was able to put their hands on this weapon, a student could have as well. As a parent of a child who was at the KH today, I believe that was completely unacceptable. I also think we, as parents, should be allowed to know just where the weapon was found. Was my child in that room?”

Many wanted to know the identity of the employee, but SPS said in its release that employee law prohibits them from disclosing the name or any details.

“The employee should be punished AT LEAST as harshly as a student who committed the same offense,” Melissa Ruckman Huber wrote. “You cannot expect the students to follow the rules if the adults are not expected to follow the rules.”

According to the school policy citing state law, anyone in violation could be facing a felony punishable by a fine up to $5,000 and two years in prison.

"Student and employee safety is a priority for Stillwater Schools and we applaud the employee who located the gun and notified administrators," the release states.

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