This week, Fox News reported the consensus among Jefferson County and Birmingham city schools officials settled against arming teachers and other schools staff as a school security measure. Birmingham school superintendent, Craig Witherspoon, is quoted as saying it would be better that the responsibility of carrying a firearm be left with trained peace officers. Last month, shortly after the mass killing in Newtown, CT, both the Jefferson County and Birmingham schools systems notified parents that police presence would be enhanced for the week following the shootings in CT but no extended time frame was given or additional efforts would be made. Officials agreed that the best course of action would be the consistent application of current protective measures which include buzzer entry and locked exterior doors. But today, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office staged a simulation for some 100 Jefferson County school staff including teachers and administrators meant to enable staff in the event of a shooting. The simulation did not involve staff using guns.
Jefferson County Public Schools has a Code of Conduct Manual. The 2012 version includes a section on “dangerous weapons” in schools. According to the manual, a firearm – loaded or unloaded – carries a mandatory one year expulsion from school. BB guns or other pellet devices are also disallowed as are fixed blade knives or spring loaded knives of a certain size. Minors are not permitted to carry firearms in Alabama for any reason.
Birmingham does not have a history of school shootings. The last two recorded shootings in Alabama occurred Feb 5, 2010 in Madison, AL and involved a single victim and the Feb 12, 2010, shootings in Huntsville, AL in which Amy Bishop, a professor there, shot and killed three colleagues and wounded three others.
Shawn Bean, promoter for the annual gun show in Birmingham, held Jan 5 and Jan 6, reported the largest turnout for the showcase since l994.