SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa – The Spirit Lake School Board voted on Monday afternoon to arm up to ten staff members to carry a concealed weapon, in case of a mass shooter in the building. The Board and Superintendent of Schools issued a statement on the vote.

“The Spirit Lake School District Board of Directors approved a resolution that will allow up to ten trained staff (non-teachers) to be armed, carry, or have access to a firearm on school property for the lawful purpose of protecting the district’s staff and students. The resolution applies only to individuals designated by Superintendent Dr. David Smith.”

Smith gave some reasoning as to why the district is doing this.

“As a school district, we have an obligation to protect our students and staff from a possible active shooter situation,” said Dr. Smith. “We know that when these events occur, most of the victims fall within the first few minutes. We have determined the right action to take is to give trained staff members the opportunity to stop a killer as soon as possible. In addition, having this policy in place serves as a deterrent for anyone who might consider entering our schools with the intent to do harm.”

Dickinson County Sheriff Greg Baloun said discussion began on this topic when area law enforcement met with area schools.

“We have four school districts and five police departments,” said Baloun. We wanted to come up with uniform response for everyone, because everyone would respond to an active shooter if it would happen.”

That is where Spirit Lake first mentioned they might want to arm some of their employees as a way to cut response time. Spirit Lake often doesn’t have three officers on duty at once and there are three school buildings to cover.

“It’s all about response time, the more people to help, the better off we are,” said Baloun. “We’re not the first one to a major car accident we count on the people until we get there.”

The training will be conducted by Tony Petersen, of Petersen Firearms. He is a long time law enforcement officer in Dickinson County. His firm is conducting the training for free to the district.

“The training that we will run them through is our armed professional program which is to deal with the mass killer in a mass casualty event,” said Petersen. “We plan on training school staff on how to deal with how to confront the active killer before they are able to kill more.” 

In town, there were some who called this idea “stupid” and others who support the district.

“It’s a touchy subject,” said Baloun. “It’s an emotional subject. I have a grandson starting in the Spirit Lake School, and I want him to be safe, and I want all the others to be safe.”