Los Lunas, N.M., schools have a new weapon in the fight to keep guns off campus: money. The district plans a $1,000 reward for anyone who turns in people who have guns on campus.

“We want people to know there’s a $1,000 bounty on their head if they bring a gun to school,” Superintendent Danny Burnett said.

The identity of tipsters who turn in people with guns on campus will remain secret unless they want to be recognized. The reward would be paid after a case goes through the courts and school administrative hearings.

“We’re definitely going to be following up and asking questions to make sure it’s a legitimate find and not one student trying to set up another,” Burnett said.

The district still has to raise the money, however. Administrators are donating items for a Dec. 16 silent auction to raise the first $1,000. The program is modeled after the successful Crime Stoppers program, which offers rewards to anonymous tipsters who help solve crime.

“As administrators, we think this is a significant enough project that we ought to be raising the first $1,000,” Burnett said. “Then we’ll be out asking businesses and other entities in the community to help us with this effort.”

During a summer retreat, administrators discussed ways to prevent a massacre such as the one at Columbine High School in Colorado.

They discussed security programs that have cameras, fences, hand-held detectors, and searches, “but we decided those are punitive-type measures that make a school seem more like a prison,” Burnett said. “We decided to come up with something less punitive but hopefully just as effective.”

Burnett said three guns have been found on Los Lunas campuses in the past five years. All three students were found guilty and expelled. District policy requires anyone found guilty of bringing a gun to school to be expelled for a year. n