Classroom Confiscations - Tucson News Now

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Across Tucson, school lockdowns, bomb threats, and possible shootings concern more than parents.

"It makes me nervous.  If he's got a gun here, then those bullets, the TPD presence, all of that could end up in MY front yard, literally.  It's like, right there," Mary Hamilton said as she pointed to Vail Middle School down the street.  She had no idea a handgun was found on the TUSD campus last year.

"It makes me really nervous.  It makes me not want to live here," she said.

Across Tucson's largest school district, there were four handgun incidents in the 2012-2013 school year. 

Most were just off campus.

"Anytime a student brings a weapon on campus it is a concern to us," said TUSD School Safety director Jeff Coleman.

Fifty knives, ten brass knuckles, one stun gun and one expandable baton were among the almost 90 weapons seized from more than 40 TUSD schools last school year.  Coleman spent almost three decades with Tucson Police.  He said that schools across the city had weapons brought on campus.

"I wouldn't say that TUSD is any different than the districts that are located within the city at least from my experience," Coleman said.

The only other district with a firearm was Amphitheater, when a Keeling Elementary kindergarten student brought a gun left in his backpack by a parent.  The district also had nine knives of different kinds and a baton seized in the Ironwood Ridge High School parking lot.

Neighboring Marana had 14 knives and two brass knuckles.

To the south, Sunnyside had 37 knives of different sizes, two brass knuckles, and five BB guns.

And on the southeast side, Vail School District had eight knives, two brass knuckles, and a taser.

"Wow, I did not know any of this at all!" said Vail School District parent Susie Walker as she looked at the list of weapons taken from students in the district.

Any surprise from parents who saw the list for their district was usually followed by some level of acceptance.

"Unfortunately these days, that kind of comes with the territory but I do think that Vail is a safer district than some in Tucson," said Vail School District parent Natalie Carty.

"Should it be threatening to you if I'm carrying a knife?" asked Amphitheater School District parent Kelly Adams.  When asked if it should be in school, he responded:

"I don't see why not. People carry knives on them."

Walker watched a video of reporter J.D. Wallace being tazed to see how serious a taser can be.

"Would I want my child to bring one to school?  Probably not.  Would I want someone to use it on my child?  Probably not.  Would I want my child to use it on someone?  Probably not.  But like I said just because someone's carrying doesn't mean they're going to use it.  So, I guess it depends on what the reason is," Walker said.

"Tasers can kill people," said martial arts instructor and Warrior School owner Jeff Prather.

He said that students who bring telescoping batons known as asps, along with tasers and brass knuckles likely don't have training nor respect for violent weapons, and that as long as that continues, violence will remain a threat.

"And that's two-fold.  Because kids don't feel safe and because they are so forbidden," Prather said.

The quicker solution for TUSD School Safety is for parents to report any little thing, whether it's about their student or someone else.  Coleman said that any increase in safety equipment such as metal detectors at schools would require governing board approval.

"Whether it's the school across the street from your house, or the school your kids attend, or the school over here, you have to be aware of it," Hamilton said.

For her part, she said that she plans to stay on top of the everyday lives of her four children and keep them out of trouble.  She said that she can't fix the rest of the world.

"I really don't know," she said.  "I say it starts with the parents.  It obviously always starts with the parents being involved in their kids' lives and knowing what's going on."

All school weapon data is from the 2012-2013 school year.

Copyright 2013 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

 

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