Chellis casts alarming vote

By Mike Anthony

Children and guns — particularly concealed weapons — don’t mix.

We would be surprised if anyone would disagree with that statement, especially someone such as a local school board member who’s responsible for ensuring the community’s children are provided a safe learning environment.

So consider our surprise when a member of the Mehlville Board of Education voted against the adoption of concealed weapons policy revisions.

The new policy permits only licensed security personnel to carry weapons on school district property or to school district events.

But that’s exactly what board Vice President Matthew Chellis did last week when he cast the dissenting vote to adopt the policy that was drafted in response to the state’s new concealed-carry law. Fortunately, Mr. Chellis was overruled by the six other Board of Education members who voted in favor of the new policy.

Republican state legislators representing south county, including former Mehlville Board of Education member Walt Bivins, who voted to override Gov. Bob Holden’s veto of the concealed-carry law contend the measure is the most restrictive in the nation, despite such provisions as “… Possession of a firearm in a vehicle on the premises of any higher education institution or elementary or secondary school facility shall not be a criminal offense so long as the fire-arm is not removed from the vehicle or brandished while the vehicle is on the premises.”

While the law makes it clear that having a firearm in the vehicle is not a criminal offense, it does not make it permissible to have a weapon in the vehicle, according to Robert A. Useted, an attorney representing the school district.

The new law “… indicates that having a firearm in a place where it isn’t supposed to be under the concealed-carry endorsement is not a criminal act, but the person may be removed from the premises. The penalty for violating this provision is extremely light,” Mr. Useted wrote in a letter to Superintendent Tim Ricker.

That certainly doesn’t sound like the most restrictive concealed-carry law in the nation to us.

Given that, we would hope that our local school board members would take whatever action necessary to provide students with a safe learning environment even if it was contrary to their own personal or political beliefs.

But consider the disturbing remarks Mr. Chellis made when casting his dissenting vote on the new policy.

“In the states that have passed concealed carry, far less than 1 percent of the eligible population has completed the necessary training and actually obtained the permit and of those who obtained the permit, only a fraction of them, after the novelty wears off, use the permit to carry concealed weapons,” he said at the board’s Sept. 29 meeting.

“When problems occur, particularly in schools, such as the Columbine shootings, it is not a law-abiding concealed carrier who causes the problem. In fact, a Columbine-type situation may not have been completely stopped or eliminated, but would probably have been ameliorated had there been a properly armed and trained school administrator … But I just want everyone to think on that and take that into account,” Mr. Chellis said.

Mehlville School District parents should have plenty to think about in response to Mr. Chellis’ comments.

Is he advocating that Mehlville School District administrators receive weapons training and then be “properly armed” while performing their administrative duties? Regarding a tragic Columbine-type situation, is he advocating that “properly armed” administrators trade volleys with armed students?

Mehlville School District parents should be alarmed about the comments made by Mr. Chellis, who, as a member of the Board of Education, has taken an oath of office promising to uphold all laws, including the Safe Schools Act, which seeks to provide a safe, weapons-free learning environ-ment.

We believe voters should question the fitness of anyone holding office who fails to do everything in his power to ensure a safe learning environment is provided for children.