California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation preventing school districts from allowing non-security employees to carry guns on campus. “This legislation ends our years-long practice of allowing trained, select employees with valid concealed weapons permits to safely store and, if necessary, access a firearm on school grounds,” Superintendent Sarah Koligan said in a prepared statement.
Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, has argued that schools would be safer without concealed weapons on campus. He was a co-author of Assembly Bill 424. “A safe learning environment is essential for our children to be successful in the classroom,” McCarty said in a statement after the Assembly passed the bill in May. “That’s not possible if a school district allows armed civilians to roam California school campuses.”
The bill was backed by the state’s two major teachers unions, the California State PTA and gun control advocates. Opponents included the National Rifle Association and other gun rights organizations. The new law revises the state’s Gun Free School Zones Act that was originally passed in 1995. The act made it a crime for a firearm to be brought within 1,000 feet of a public or private K-12 campus. The law also prohibits loaded firearms on university grounds without the permission of the administration. The original act failed to address concealed weapon permits, which were not that common at the time, according to McCarty. It was revised in 2015 with an exemption for employees to carry a concealed firearm if they had a permit and written permission from a superintendent.
The new law only provides exemptions for shooting sports, certified hunter education or other activities sanctioned by a school district or university. Law enforcement, security guards, military personnel and armored vehicle guards remain exempt from the ban on guns.