From Staff Reports
An ordinance aimed at plugging what parish attorney Patrick Jackson called “a hole in the law” governing weapons on Bossier Parish school campuses has received unanimous approval from the parish police jury.
Under terms of the ordinance, students or non-students will now face charges for unlawful carrying of imitation firearms, projectiles, dangerous weapons or ammunition on school property or at school sponsored functions.
It will also be unlawful to possess imitation firearms while on any school transportation or at any school sponsored function in a specific designated area “…including but not limited to athletic competitions, dances, parties or any extracurricular activities.”
Imitation firearms are described as “any BB device, toy gun, replica of a firearm, CO2 propellant firearm device or other device that is substantially similar in coloration and overall appearance to an existing firearm as to lead a reasonable person to perceive that the device is a firearm.”
Nothing in the current law prohibits carrying imitation firearms or weapons onto school grounds.
Bossier Parish Deputy Sheriff Adam Johnson, who serves as director of security for parish schools, told jurors that his officers have had issues over the past few years involving imitation firearms.
“A lot of young people have been making poor decisions. They see a lot of things on television…they take these weapons that look very identical to firearms just like the one I’m carrying,” Adams said.
Some incidents involving imitation firearms have been reported locally, Adams said. When law enforcement officers learned someone was carrying what looked like a firearm on campus, they responded with caution.
“When law enforcement approached the individuals, these individuals took the imitation firearms away from their body and began running,” he said. “You can imagine the split second decision an officer must make when they see a weapon pointed in their direction.”
Adams said another incident involved a person who videoed himself pointing an imitation firearm into a mirror and posted the action on social media.
“He’s actually inside a school building doing this. It looks like a real weapon,” he said.
Students who bring an imitation weapon onto school grounds kick off a series of events that disrupt the school schedule, Adams told the jury members.
“We’re going into lock-down procedures, parents will be notified…there will be a lot of explaining to do,” he said. “We need something with teeth in this parish to get to these kids. We’ve authored an ordinance to meet our needs.”