ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation Wednesday prohibiting most school officials from carrying weapons on school grounds.
The law makes an exception for armed law-enforcement officers, security guards and school resource officers, also known as SROs.
The new law is in contrast to the position President Donald Trump has taken on the issue, in which he has promoted the idea of arming teachers and other school officials in an effort to deter gun violence. Other states across the country have considered arming teachers.
Cuomo said more guns is not the answer.
This week he signed six new gun control laws. The prohibition on armed school faculty is the latest.
“The answer to the gun violence epidemic plaguing this country has never been and never will be more guns, and today we’re expanding New York’s nation-leading gun safety laws to further protect our children,” Cuomo said in a statement.
The bill takes effect immediately.
National Rifle Association safety instructor Donald La Valley, who is past president of the Columbia County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, said arming school staff would make students safer.
“I would be in favor of school officials carrying a gun, as long as they are properly trained and licensed, and insured as well,” La Valley said. “I don’t recommend a janitor walks around with a shotgun, but you also don’t want to make it any easier for someone to come into a school and shoot people. Our children are our most important resource, and we need to protect them.”
La Valley said prohibiting guns for most school personnel creates a hazard.
“By banning firearms on school grounds, we have created soft targets,” he said. “If someone wants to go to a school and shoot, he knows he can get away with it because there is no one there to stop him.”
Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-102, said all possibilities should have been considered.
“If the governor was serious about protecting our kids, he would’ve explored all options to secure our schools instead of reflexively taking safety measures off the table,” Tague said. “If an educator is a retired law enforcement official or has received extensive training, there is no good reason to prohibit them from carrying a weapon that could neutralize a school shooter and save innocent lives.”
At the Ichabod Crane Central School District, the existing policy mirrors the new law so nothing will change, Interim District Superintendent Lee Bordick said.
“Our policy prohibits public, staff and students from bringing any weapons onto school grounds, with the exception of an SRO. This will not change anything for us,” Bordick said.
He said the school resource officer is a Columbia County sheriff’s deputy and is armed and on school property during the school day. Bordick said students are safer that way.
“This provides a tremendous level of safety for our students, staff and community as a whole,” Bordick said. “Our district has an SRO as an additional layer of security and works with the county sheriff’s and state police.”
Guns are banned on many other school campuses in the Twin Counties.More new gun laws
Cuomo this week signed a spate of new gun control laws. Late Tuesday he signed additional legislation banning 3-D printed guns and other undetectable firearms. Another new law expands safe storage requirements for guns in households where children under age 16 reside.
That move came one day after the governor passed laws banning bump stocks, which accelerate the speed at which a gun can fire, and extending the waiting period on some background checks.
Firearms manufactured using an industrial 3-D printer or laser-cutting machines are made of plastic, using a metal firing pin that can potentially be removable, according to the FBI, which would make it undetectable.
Greene County Sheriff Greg Seeley said neither 3-D weapons nor bump stocks have been a local problem.
“We have never had cases involving 3-D guns or bump stocks. Not even close,” Seeley said.
Hudson Police Chief L. Edward Moore said he has not seen an issue in his area.
“I haven’t seen 3-D guns in the city of Hudson and we haven’t had any crimes involving bump stocks as long as I have been here,” Moore noted.
Cuomo also signed legislation requiring the safe storage of weapons in homes where children under the age of 16 reside, or where they are likely to be accessible to youngsters under 16. The law includes a provision that allows kids who are properly licensed or supervised to hunt or practice shooting at a firing range.
Seeley said he supported safe storage of weapons, but added that more has to be done.
“Safe storage is a good thing. I wouldn’t be opposed to it, but what we need to do is educate kids — teach them about gun safety and what is right and wrong. To put more restrictions on guns — do they think we are going to go busting into houses to see if someone has a safe? Not on my watch,” Seeley said.
He would like to see more funding for education and safety classes.
“Instead of giving money to welfare, we should spend it on having law enforcement give seminars and teach gun safety. I think the money would be better spent that way,” Seeley said. “Another law, another law, another law. I am not for that at all.”