The Newtown Police Department announced on Wednesday that they arrested a teacher from Newtown Middle School after he was seen carrying a concealed weapon to class. Anywhere else, the incident may have gone unnoticed, but this was Newtown, Connecticut. The same town that in 2012, found itself the center of tragedy after a gunman went into Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 20 children along with six staffers.
The shooting kicked off a debate over gun control, mental illness, and whether teachers should be allowed to bring firearms to school. Some argued that in the event of a school shooting, teachers and other staffers can be the first line of defense against active shooters. So, when police arrested 46-year-old Jason Adams for carrying a firearm into the school with a valid concealed pistol permit, the incident was instantly politicized.
“We are dismayed that this could happen in a school, especially one in a community as traumatized as Newtown,” read a statement from the Sandy Hook Promise, a group dedicated to advocating for gun reform. “We commend the Newtown Police Department and Newtown Public Schools for their thoughtful handling of the arrest of science teacher Jason Adams for violating the law by bringing a weapon onto school grounds.”
On the other hand, gun rights groups responded a bit differently to the incident.
“We disagree with the law as far as permit holders not being able to carry on school grounds,” Scott Wilson, president of Connecticut Citizens Defense League, a group that advocates for gun owners’ rights, told the Hartford Courant. “However, the law is the law and hopefully this person had the intent to protect students from harm’s way in a worst-case scenario.”
Neither police nor Adams have made any statements on why he brought a firearm into the school. Officials did say that Adams was first spotted carrying the firearm by another staffer and then later detained by police. He was later released on his own recognizance and charged with a violation of State Statute 53a-217b, which forbids the possession of a firearm on school property. Connecticut has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, especially after the 2012 Newtown shooting.
“This matter is very serious and troubling, both the Newtown Public School system and the Newtown Police Department took immediate steps to address the matter,” officials stated. “The teacher was immediately detained by security personnel. The teacher has additionally been placed on administrative leave pending an administrative investigation. Both agencies have been working closely together to investigate the incident and are taking precautions to ensure the continued safety of our students, staff and community members.”
However, many have sympathized with teachers who want to bring in firearms to protect their students.
“They said, ‘taking precautions to ensure the continued safety of our students’, I think that’s what he was doing,” said one commenter on Facebook.