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San Diego Unified will eliminate its rifle ranges and stop training students in marksmanship, one aspect of the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps program, under a resolution passed by the school board Tuesday night.
“The issue here is the message that we want to send,” said school board member John Lee Evans, who proposed the ban. “And the message is that we don’t want weapons training to be part of our educational program.”
It was a victory for a coalition of high school students and community activists who campaigned against the rifle ranges in place at several San Diego high schools for more than a year, arguing that the practice encourages violence. JROTC students, teachers and backers protested the plan and complained that their program had been inaccurately linked to gang crime and recent shootings citywide, despite its clean safety record.
“We are not gang members and we have never been suspended or expelled,” said Jenny Trac, a junior at Madison High School and a member of the rifle team. Rattling off a list of her classmates’ accomplishments, she added, “Our academic accomplishments speak for themselves.”
The motion states that marksmanship training is prohibited on or off campus and that existing rifle ranges will be immediately closed and converted for other uses. Board members John de Beck and Richard Barrera also supported the ban; Katherine Nakamura and Shelia Jackson opposed it.
“I don’t think that we have shown that the shooting ranges at these schools are in any way related to the students we lost and why we lost them. I think it gives us satisfaction that we are doing something,” Nakamura said.