South Carolina principal supports first responders carrying guns in schools

A South Carolina school principal said she supports a proposed bill that would allow first responders to carry concealed guns into schools when responding to emergencies.

Deborah Wilfong, principal of St. Andrews Catholic School in Myrtle Beach, said she thought the legislation would enable first responders to better protect themselves and others during emergency situations, WBTW News reported.

“If we were to call from the school and need help immediately and they were the first ones to be here, and if that’s what they needed to have for their protection and ours, I would support that,” said Wilfong.

The proposed legislation, H.3566, would allow paramedics and firefighters holding concealed weapons permits to carry firearms on school campuses, after receiving one week of training at South Carolina’s Criminal Justice Academy.

Republican Rep. Jay Jordan, the bill’s sponsor, said he understands parents’ apprehension but also said he thought the bill would ultimately make schools safer.

“As a father of three schoolchildren myself, when you hear firearms near a school, the antenna should go up. But this is a situation that would hopefully make our schools safer,” Jordan said.

Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue Lt. Jonathan Evans indicated some department members would be interested in participating, but thought his department may still end up passing on the program.

“We’re fortunate that we have a large police presence and are right before or just after we get there. I don’t know. It’s something that we have to look at and see if it’s really right for us,” Evans said.

The bill was inspired by a 2016 elementary school shooting that occurred in Townville, S.C., in which a 14-year-old boy fatally shot his father and then drove to Townville Elementary School, where he opened fire and killed a 6-year-old and injured two others.

It was a first responder, a 30-year veteran volunteer firefighter, who tackled the shooter.

According to a report from WIS 10, other firefighters, such as Lugoff Fire and Rescue Chief Dennis Ray, strongly support the bill.

“We face life or death decisions every day,” Ray says. “We make those decisions in the fire service.”

“Society is not becoming less evil,” Ray continued. “Society is eviler now than it’s ever been, and our law enforcement officers are facing that now more than ever. The disrespect for authority in society now is worse than it’s ever been.”

The bill has been approved by the House Judiciary Committee and is still being debated in the Legislature.