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At school meeting in Edina, topic turns to guns and safety

MinnPost photo by Brian Halliday
Edina school superintendent Ric Dressen and incoming legislators Melissa Franzen, Ron Erhardt, Paul Rosenthal at Monday night's meeting.

The horror of what happened in Newtown, Conn., immediately drew lawmakers and school administrators in Edina into discussion of gun control and school safety.

At a meeting Monday night of parents and their newly elected legislators, Superintendent Ric Dressen said he was compelled to begin with comments about the shootings at Sandy Hook elementary school.  

“We’re reminded again of the importance of safety and making sure our students feel safe as a school district,” he told the group. “We do have policies in place that support that. Yet, situations that occurred last Friday, those are literally impossible to figure out how you can manage that.”

Melisa Franzen, state senator-elect from District 49, also started her comments with a reflection on the tragedy. “What triggered in my mind was, how did we fail one child because really it was a child that committed this tragedy,” she said.  “So I don’t see it [as] someone’s fault or someone’s failure. I see it as a need for society to figure out how to not have this happen again.”

In a message to parents on the Edina school district website, Dressen described the district’s approach to dealing with a crisis in the schools: “We are constantly reviewing and updating our crisis plan, both internally with our staff and externally in partnership with local first responders, counselors and other community resources in an effort to ensure a safe and secure learning environment for our students and staff.”

That message, along with emails from teachers and school principals, was a great comfort, said Paul Rosenthal, incoming state representative from District 49B and who has two children in Edina schools.  “It really gave us a way to approach our kids as we came home that day,” he told the group of about 40 parents who had gathered at the Edina Community Center.  “One of my kids knew, the other didn’t, and I was really worried about how to approach that.” 

Rosenthal, Franzen and Ron Erhardt, the new state representative from 49A, all DFLers, reacted coolly to a proposal from Tony Cornish, the Republican state representative from Good Thunder, to allow teachers to carry guns in the classroom. 

“My initial thought is the less guns in school the better,” Rosenthal said.  Erhardt agreed: “We have enough guns.”

“I don’t know what could be more dangerous than killing 20 kids,” Cornish said in defense of his proposed legislation. “It’s no more risky than a pilot that carries a gun on an airplane.”

Cornish described the legislation as a step up from conceal-and-carry. Currently, teachers can carry guns but only with permission from their school district superintendents.  “Right now an intruder can come into a gun-free zone that we have created and know that there’s no one there to resist,” he said. 

The legislators and the superintendent acknowledged the desire to react, but “to target one solution isn’t the answer,” Dressen said.  “I think it’s got to be broader.”

Dressen said he will gather his administrative staff on Wednesday to review the district’s policy and conduct an audit to determine where procedures can be improved.  He indicated that as in school districts around the state, the topic will eclipse other education concerns for now. “Safety right now today, that is going to be front and center going forward.”

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 12/18/2012 - 03:58 pm.

    Hmmmm, a gun in every classroom.

    Every administrator, teacher, custodian, and aide, armed. Every one of those of sound mind and outlook. Everyone on alert all day. Each person aware of their weapon and it’s security status at all times. Ready to whip it out at an instants threat.

    No chance of a student or any adult seizing the moment (and a weapon), when perhaps otherwise they previously have had little or no access to a weapon?

  2. Submitted by Dick Novack on 12/19/2012 - 04:11 pm.

    Cornish wants schools to be an 1960’s Isreali Kibbutz ?

    Representative Cornish,
    we will never control guns in America because there are already too many of them to find even for those that advocate confiscation. But the statistics simply are not on your side – unless of course you only read NRA Times. Guns in a place do not increase safety because most people cannot and do not react properly.

    The cure for the proplem as I see it is to 1) stop the desentization of violence and killing as people learn in video games and TV crime shows – which I too like, 2) deal properly and fully with mental illness, 3) tightly control (yup the word control) who has guns and who can buy ammunition, 4) require training for each firearms buyer as to safe storage, handling, etc with [self] certification that they have bought or own safe storage accident prevention materials, 5) get rid of the no background check purchase gatherings, 6) get rid of military type clips for the public etc, 7) limit types of ammunition to that which a person ordinarily would use – not armor piercing, expanding (dum dum) bullets, and other killer ammunition. In otherwords allow the sale and possession of what one needs to hunt, sport and self protection. Not what one needs to privately fight a war. That constitutional right is reserved for the government – not individuals bearing arms.

  3. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/19/2012 - 09:38 am.


    Well I’m glad they’re talking about this in Edina because lord knows no one else is talking about it? The absurdity of Cornish’s proposal is obvious. Here’s a reaction I came across on Face BooK:

    So, believe it or not, some gun-loving fanatic insists that if Teachers were allowed to carry guns, then shootings like these could be avoided. Sounds like a brilliant plan, but of course I have a few questions:

    1) Will teachers need to purchase their own weapons, or will they be provided by the School District? Because, right now, many teachers are forced to buy their own school supplies due to lack of funding.

    2) Will the teachers be trained in the proper use of such firearms? Because getting ANY kind of extra training for teachers has so far been quashed.

    3) Will these weapons be restricted for ONLY self-defense? Or can a few warning shots be fired to quiet a noisy classroom?

    4) If, god-forbid, another gunfight DOES break out in the school what would be the repercussions if the teacher — in trying to defend her classroom — accidentally shot one of her own students? Would the Teacher’s Union pay damages? Would the teacher be placed on administrative leave?

    5) Would a substitute teacher need to acquire their own gun? Or could they just use the one left behind by the absent teacher?

    At least now we have some topics for an ACTUAL debate. Discuss.

  4. Submitted by David Frenkel on 03/26/2013 - 08:10 am.


    is there any update what the Edina schools have done to make the schools safer? I have seen virtually no physical changes to buildings to make them safer. Edina needs to make investments in aging infrastructure to make buildings safer.

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