School district under scrutiny after kids get hold of gun intended to thwart shooter

An Ohio school district's gun training program is being criticized after an incident was revealed in which two first graders took a gun that was supposed to be secured and left it on a desk

Gun in School | Photo:Fotolia

In the wake of several mass shootings, some have pushed for initiatives that allow school faculty members to carry fire arms. But administrators at an Ohio school facility were recently stunned to discover that two first grade students had managed to gain access to a gun kept on site for safety.

On Friday, the Columbus Dispatch reported that the gun was taken from a box in an administrative office that had been left unlocked. The incident took place last March, but was only revealed publicly last week.

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An investigation revealed that the fire arm that the 6-year-olds obtained belonged to the transportation director, Vicky Nelson. She was trained as part of district’s concealed carry program and had permission to have a gun on school property.

She left her grandson and the first grade daughter of an assistant in her office near Highland Elementary School in Sparta to use the restroom.  When she returned, she was dismayed to find the gun laying out on her desk with the two children playing nearby.

School superintendent Dan Freund says the children had most likely removed the gun from the box and played with it, before discarding it like a toy. Freund said the thought of what could have happened made him “physically sick,” adding that others were also “horrified.”

Freund did not report the incident to Morrow County Sheriff John L. Hinton, who says he only found out about it through social media, according to the Dispatch. If he had, he says, there would have been an investigation in March.

Nelson was removed from the school district’s concealed carry program and was suspended without pay for three days.

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Jim Irvine, president of the Buckeye Firearms Association, says that more than 100 public school districts and charter programs have concealed carry programs. “It’s very fortunate it didn’t turn into a catastrophic event,” he said.

But Greg Perry, a firearms trainer for the Morrow County sheriff’s office, who came in to help the Highland district with its gun training program was more critical.

What happened there was not consistent with the training provided, the policies and procedures or the conditions of being on the (concealed carry) team,” he said. “That’s a big no-no. It’s inexcusable.”