The board of trustees of Los Angeles Community College passed a resolution banning guns on campus, effectively ending a firearms training course that had been part of the college’s roster for years.
The ban applies to all nine of LACC’s campuses, and was enthusiastically backed by Board of Trustees Vice President Scott Svonkin.
“We should make sure that students don’t come to campus being afraid to run into somebody with a gun,” he said in a statement to Campus Reform.
Svonkin was happy to see the firearm training course go. Colleges should not teach students to use guns, he said. Rather, they should “promote gun control.”
The course was co-sponsored by the National Rifle Association, and has been taught for the past six years by instructor Gerry Koehler. Koehler did not respond to requests for comment, but his website gives his training philosophy as follows: “Don’t expect the police or the government to protect you. YOU are the only one that can protect you and your family. Learn how to do it right. Learn how to do it safely.”
Koehler sought authorization to use plastic toy guns in class, but these are specifically banned as well in the text of the board’s resolution.
Curiously, the resolution creates an exemption for weapons that are used in “theatrical performances.” Svonkin did not respond to a request for comment as to the meaning of this exemption.
Koeher said that College President Kathleen Burke forbid even the use of the word “gun” on campus, according to an interview with Campus Reform.
“She said they are not allowed to even have the mention of the world ‘gun’ in their campus catalog,” he said.
Svonkin openly accused the NRA and the firearms training course of endangering the campus.
“I believe that the NRA’s goal is to promote gun ownership, and that guns lead to deaths,” he said. “So, not having the NRA teach classes, not having the NRA classes on our campuses, is a good thing. I’m much happier with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department protecting our students and our staff and our faculty than having some random person who took a three-hour class and thinks that they’re Dirty Harry.”
The ban is in part a response to a shooting at Santa Monica College in June. A gunman, John Zawahri, allegedly shot his father and brother in their home, forced a motorist to drive him to the campus, and then opened fire on random people. Santa Monica College was a gun-free zone at the time. It is unclear whether LACC trustees believe that establishing a gun-free zone would deter a mass shooter from entering their campus.
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