Hardin resident decries county’s approach toward handgun case

Letter to the Editor
Thursday, October 18, 2018
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I recently sat through a trial at our district court. From the onset, I was totally pissed off that our local county district attorney would totally waste county tax money and resources on a case like this.

The case was about the proper handling of a gun brought to our high school; period.

A student brought a handgun to the school. An art teacher who routinely helps and talks to troubled kids was handed a gun by a student at the end of a very busy Friday school day.

The acting school administrator was not available and not answering her phone, and the gun was locked up in the room.

The acting school administrator was told by two students on Friday that a student had a black handgun in his waistband. She did not believe the students and did not call 911 per school policy.

In court, the deputy said if he had known about the gun on Friday, he would have arrested the art teacher on Friday for possession of the gun.

How stupid is our system? School policy in this situation means: The gunwielding student, the student who found the gun, the teacher who locked up the gun and ended the threat to the public, and the school head and sheriff officer all handled the gun on school property.

The threat to the public was over. The gun was handed over to the Sheriff’s Office the following morning. None of the school administrators knew proper procedures in this unusual situation. The school policy manual was not clear, except the credible suspicion of a gun on campus should have required a 911 call. Teachers are not allowed to call 911.

Changes in the manual are needed.

The events that led to this trial will never happen again. The juvenile who brought the gun to school to show off is free and out among us.

The art teacher has documented post-traumatic stress disorder and other stress/trauma issues, so she processes things differently than most people. She knew nothing about guns. She is not a danger to society. She was a great teacher, respected by her students and tried – in her own way – to protect her students.

Is that a crime in our society? I hope not.

The gun was secured and the crisis ended by the art teacher. The lack of calling 911 by the school administrator and a poorlywritten policy manual not reviewed by said administrators caused an escalation of events.

Putting an art teacher in jail is not appropriate in any way for protecting her kids or thinking the gun is locked up. A troubled child is not on a rampage in Hardin, Montana.

Thank our lucky stars that the gun was locked up by the art teacher – the troubled student had a caring teacher to settle him down and avoid a major event.

Everyone in the audience who I spoke with agreed this was a total waste of taxpayer dollars and time.

Common sense says save our tax dollars and lacking jail space for violent offenders, and leave our protective teachers alone.

Cory Kenney