The Board of Trustees at Los Angeles Community College laid down new restrictions to ban firearms on campus, including guns that are “non-operational and in the instructional setting.” The ban, which applies to all nine campuses in the LACC system, resulted in the cancellation of a firearms training course co-sponsored by the National Rifle Association (NRA) that has been available for a number of years. The only exception to the ban is for “non-operational” guns used in “theatrical performances.”
“We should make sure that students don’t come to campus being afraid to run into somebody with a gun,” said Board of Trustees Vice President Scott Svonkin, who co-authored the resolution.
The cancelled firearms course had been taught for the last six years by instructor Gerry Koehler. Koehler sought authorization from the school board to continue teaching the course with plastic toy guns, but his request was denied by Pierce College president Dr. Kathleen Burke-Kelly.
“She said that they are not allowed to even have the mention of the word ‘gun’ in their campus catalog, which I find utterly ridiculous and a total violation of the First Amendment…now this is a First Amendment issue,” said Koehler.
Svonkin, however, fully supported the removal of the NRA-sponsored course, and expressed his negative views of the association openly.
“I believe that the NRA’s goal is to promote gun ownership, and that guns lead to deaths,” he said. “So, not having the NRA teach classes, not having the NRA classes on our campuses, is a good thing.”
“I’m much happier with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department protecting our students and our staff and our faculty than having some random person who took a three-hour class and thinks that they’re Dirty Harry,” Svonkin continued.
The ban is, in part, a response to a shooting that took place at Santa Monica College in June, when a gunman shot his father and brother, forced someone to drive him to SMC, and opened fire in public. However, because SMC was a gun-free campus at the time, it is not clear whether officials believe that a ban would stop a similar event from taking place at LACC campuses.