The School should remove fire extinguishers; the fire department is minutes away.
David Chong is president of the La Mesa-Spring Valley School Board. He also is the owner of an El Cajon gun store.
Jim Miller Jr., an attorney, is a school board member with the Cajon Valley Union School District. Like Chong, he is a member of the San Diego County Gun Owners.
Both officials are facing demands they resign their school board seats after publicly expressing support for gun ownership in ways that some say deliberately inflamed gun-control advocates, including Miller wearing a National Rifle Association cap to a meeting.
Dozens of people turned out for last month’s meeting of the Cajon Valley board to call for Miller’s resignation; a lesser number appeared before the La Mesa-Spring Valley board earlier this month seeking Chong’s removal. A “Recall James Miller” page has been set up on Facebook by a parent in the district.
It is the latest conflict over gun ownership to erupt in the county since 17 people – 14 students and three staff members — were killed Feb. 14 at a high school in Parkland, Fla.
Last month, the state board that oversees the Del Mar Fairgrounds heard scores of speakers weigh in on whether it should end the popular gun show that is held there several times a year.
And students at schools countywide have staged organized walkouts to show their support for gun control.
Chong and Miller said they jumped into the emotionally charged debate because they felt gun advocates were getting short shrift during the walkouts, which they said focused almost exclusively on restricting access to guns.
Chong said owning a mom-and-pop store that sells firearms and ammunition and serving on the local school board are not mutually exclusive. He stocks hundreds of new and used guns, from pistols to AR-15 rifles, at his Main Street store, AO Sword Firearms.
He said he believes strongly in both the First Amendment right to free speech and the Second Amendment right to bear arms. Both, he said, have room in the public discourse.
“I absolutely identify with the feelings that the people who have spoken out have, the school violence, the senseless killings,” Chong said. “These kids shouldn’t be dying. It’s not fair, it’s not right. It’s cruel and twisted.”
But, he said, “school safety is not a gun issue; it’s a human issue.”
The calls for Chong’s resignation last month came in response to a video he made and posted on Facebook endorsing El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells’s run for Congress.
In the video, Chong criticizes elected officials who take “firearms policy advice from kids who were eating Tide pods just last week.”
Chong later explained that he was using humor when he referred to last year’s internet fad of kids eating the laundry detergent packets because he wanted to make a point about the “folly of youth and the dangers of under-informed policy.”
Residents said his comments crossed the line.
Rob Weaver, the parent of a child in the district, told the school board at a meeting last month that Chong was “blatantly mocking and bullying children who are survivors of horrific events in which they have witnessed the brutal murder of their friends.”
La Mesa resident Emily Green said she would be uncomfortable allowing her two children, currently in preschool and kindergarten, to attend the district school as long as Chong is on the board.
“I feel like it’s a conflict of interest, someone who profits selling AR-15s to be on the school board and making decisions concerning student safety,” Green said.