Proposal Would Arm Staff at Local School

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NEWCOMERSTOWN, Ohio -- School officials are going ahead with a plan to arm some members of the staff and faculty with handguns this fall.

Members of the Newcomerstown Board of Education voted in favor of the plan which will permit an unspecified number of faculty or staff members to carry a weapon.  The individuals will have to be licensed, receive additional tactical training and be re-certified each year by the Tuscarawas County Sheriff's Department

"With Chardon shootings and everyone's more aware and so many of these things that happen are, like, copycat instances," said Gary McDonald, a resident of the rural Ohio community, approximately 90 minutes south of Cleveland.

Joyce Weaver, a life-long resident, agreed with the decision.  "I think it's okay as long as they're trained and they don't panic at an intruder and you make sure the intruder is actually an intruder."

There are 1,300 hundred students in the district who attend class in one of four different buildings.  There is a high school, middle school and two elementary school buildings.  But administrators won't say exactly who will be armed, where or when.

"We do need some kind of protection," said a woman who didn't want to be identified.  "But I would prefer it would be some kind of law officer that was there every day."

Newcomerstown Board of Education Member Arlene Mayhew told FOX 8's Mark Zinni that the plan moved forward with little opposition after the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut.

Jim Irvine from the Buckeye Firearms Association, which was involved in the process to arm the faculty in Newcomerstown, told FOX 8 News, "Any district that has not revamped their security is negligent and the kids are at risk."

The Buckeye Firearms Association spokesman also said other Ohio schools are taking similar action and more want to learn about the process.  The Ohio School Board Association does not keep a count of the number of schools participating in similar programs and the Ohio Department of Education did not respond to a request for comment.

"You're never really prepared for that, you think you are in your brain, your mind, but when actually somebody points a gun in your face, what are you gonna do? You have to have something to protect those children," said Joyce Weaver.

The board president said some insurance coverage issues are still being finalized and if there is a problem, it likely wouldn't go ahead as planned.