School and police officials are drawing up a plan that would providehigh school principals with basic firearms lessons, an idea promptedby the discovery of a gun at Howard High School last week.
While the idea is being discussed, school officials said they hope police officers can meet with principals to show them how to handle loaded guns and the people who carry them.
"We would like to know the right way to do this, because it's just simply not something they teach us in principal's school," said Eugene L. Streagle, the principal of Howard High.
Streagle's concern stems from an incident last week in which a loaded .22-caliber handgun was seized from a 16-year-old student at the school. The weapon wastaken from the student by an assistant principal who was alerted that the youth had brought a gun into the building.
The gun was takenfrom the youth -- who was arrested for handgun violations -- with noproblems or resistance, but "we really were quite scared about the situation," and there was much apprehension about handling a loaded gun, Streagle said.
In the training, principals and assistant principals would be instructed on how to recognize whether a gun is cocked and ready to fire, and how to recognize whether the gun is on safety,or non-firing, mode.
Some instruction also would be provided to show school officials the best way to approach someone suspected of carrying a concealed weapon, and how to identify what type of gun they are seeing.
"It's unfortunate, but in today's society, you need toknow something about how to deal with someone who's carrying a gun,"Streagle said.
"This doesn't happen often, but I feel as though there probably will be a 'next time,' and we should be prepared."
Howard County Police Chief James N. Robey supported the idea, saying that he hopes the training becomes a model for school systems.
"I think it's a smart move today to educate yourself about how to handle guns," Robey said.
"This would be worthwhile training for any school system," he said.
Police officers would probably meet with small groups of administrators from the eight county high schools to provide the training, Robey said.
Daniel Jett, instructional director of high schools for Howard County, said he and Associate Superintendent James R. McGowan are working out plans for when the training wouldbegin and what it would entail.
"What we're looking for are basically some tips and suggestions, so that we can put some kind of a protocol in place for dealing with these situations," Jett said.