- A California teacher accidentally shot his gun in a classroom on Tuesday, injuring three students.
- The incident is one of several mishaps in recent weeks that involved guns in schools after the Trump administration began advocating that certain teachers carry firearms.
- Critics of the proposal have highlighted the incidents as proof that arming teachers could result in deadly accidents.
A California teacher who also serves as a reserve police officer reportedly injured three students on Tuesday after he accidentally fired his weapon during a lesson on gun safety.
Dennis Alexander was about to show the class how to disarm someone when he pointed his gun at the ceiling to make sure it wasn’t loaded, local NBC affiliate KSBW 8 reported.
It was, in fact, loaded, and Alexander accidentally fired a shot into the ceiling. When the bullet fragments ricocheted, some of them flew into the neck of one 17-year-old student, his father told the TV station.
“He’s shaken up, but he’s going to be okay,” Fermin Gonzalez said. “It’s the craziest thing … It could have been very bad.”
Gonzalez said he only learned about the accident when his son came home with blood on his clothing and the bullet fragments still embedded in his neck.
Alexander apologized for the incident, and both the Seaside High School and the Sand City Police Department quickly placed him on administrative leave. Police are investigating the matter.
“I have concerns about why he was displaying a loaded firearm in a classroom. We will be looking into that,” Sand City police chief Brian Ferrante told KSBW.
The incident underscores one of the main concerns expressed by critics of President Donald Trump’s recent proposal to arm certain teachers and eliminate “gun-free zones.” Opponents argue that even people with the most extensive firearms training could make a mistake that turns fatal.
Arming teachers and eliminating ‘gun-free zones’
The California case is one of several gun-related mishaps in schools to receive national media attention in recent weeks.
On February 28, a Georgia teacher barricaded himself in a high-school classroom and fired one gunshot out a window, police said. Though no one was injured from the shot, the incident left students shaken.
Then, on Monday, a Michigan sheriff accidentally left his backup gun in a school locker room, according to the Associated Press. A student found the weapon and informed an adult.
Isabella County Sheriff Michael Main told media he left his gun in a bag while he was changing from street clothes into a uniform. He apologized for the mistake on Tuesday.
“In the 20 years of law enforcement service, I have never left a weapon anywhere,” he said. “I have no excuse for my lack of responsibility with this matter. I have worked diligently my entire career to protect people, especially our youth. However, I have failed to do just that, and I’m devastated with my lack of accountability in this matter.”
In a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting on Wednesday, Sen. Kamala Harris of California told top federal law-enforcement officials that she was “troubled” by the idea of arming certain teachers, even those given substantial training.
“Trained law enforcement officials, they only hit their intended target approximately 20% of the time,” Harris said, citing a study. “Now we’re talking about giving teachers some limited training on how to use a gun. I would suggest that their numbers aren’t going to be any better than that.”