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The School Sentinel Bill (HB1087) is weaving its way through the South Dakota Legislature and has sparked an immense amount of discussion.  Most of the talk revolves around bringing guns into schools and having them around kids.  After the Connecticut shootings, it is understandably a hot topic.  Diving further into the statutes of what is currently allowed and what the legislature is trying to accomplish makes this subject even more alluring.

Here are some facts about allowing guns in school according to the Gun Free School Zones Act of 1990:  1) Law enforcement officers can carry a firearm in their official capacity on school grounds.  2) Schools can enter into a contract with an individual or business for the express purpose of protection of school grounds with a firearm.  3) Citizens can traverse school premises for the purpose of gaining access to public or private lands open to hunting, if the entry on school premises is authorized by school authorities, but the weapon must be unloaded.  If you would like to read all the provisions in the bill click here.

The Sioux Falls School District currently has uniformed police officers in their schools.  With the amount of available officers in the community for this service it makes sense to utilize these officers in that capacity.  However, many schools in lesser-populated areas do not have the resources available to match that level of security.  Anne Hajek who is a State Representative from District 14 concedes that rural areas do not have the ability to have uniformed police officers in their schools.  She also queried members of her District about the policy.  Her constituents agree that having uniformed officers that carry weapons in schools for protection purposes is a good practice.

Anne Hajek Says Sioux Falls Is Already Doing What HB 1087 Does

Reasons that HB 1087 is gaining support are these:  1) School Districts will choose whether to participate in the process.  2) Local law enforcement agencies will be intricately involved in the implementation.  3) The sentinel would go through an approved training course before advancing to armed status.

HB 1087 did gain widespread support in the South Dakota House after barely making it through the Education Committee.  The law is now in the State Affairs Committee in the Senate and we shall continue to monitor its journey.