RI bars guns from all schools

Gov. Gina Raimondo and Education Commissioner Ken Wagner announce a policy barring all guns from all Rhode Island schools. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

By Steve Klamkin WPRO News 

Rhode Island takes steps to ban guns from all schools in the state, with the exception of identifiable law enforcement personnel.

State Education Commissioner Ken Wagner Wednesday issued a policy directive, stating that “all firearms, including concealed-carry firearms are hereby banned from all public school buildings and grounds by anyone other than visibly identified active law enforcement officers.”

The policy was developed after months of consultations with schools, teachers, parents, police and others, said Gov. Gina Raimondo.

“I’ve talked to many teachers who are scared,” Raimondo said. “They say to me, we don’t if our colleagues might have a gun. We don’t know if a parent, coming to a parent – teacher conference may have a gun.”

She and Wagner said 46 other states bar guns in schools and the order is intended to clear up any confusion about conflicting policies in individual school districts.

“That lack of clarity of whether or not someone with a gun in a school is a good, law-abiding person with a permit or someone with evil intent is exactly what we need to fix,” Wagner told reporters at an announcement late Wednesday morning at which he announced the new policy, which takes effect immediately.

Raimondo said the policy follows other steps Rhode Island has already taken in the aftermath of the mass shooting February 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida which left 17 people dead and other 17 wounded.

She said the state adopted a “red flag” law to enable police or family members to seek the removal of guns from those who may pose a danger to themselves or others. The state also provided funding to hire additional school resource officers, and to provide locks on school doors and windows.