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Some Teachers May Be Able to Carry Guns At School: What You Need to Know

Some Teachers May Be Able to Carry Guns At School: What You Need to Know


Republican lawmakers advanced a bill on April 9th that would allow some teachers to carry concealed guns at school. This comes almost a year to the day that a shooting occurred at a private school in Nashville, Tennessee, killing three adults and three children. 

What are the conditions?

The Senate passed HB 1202 in a 26-5 vote following emotional protests from people crying out against the legislation. The bill would allow school faculty or staff members to carry a concealed handgun on school grounds under certain conditions. Those conditions are the same as those of a school’s SRO (resource officer), including 40 hours of annual gun training at their own expense, in addition to needing approval from the principal, passing a mental health evaluation, and passing an FBI background check.

Who Would Know Who is Carrying?

The bill would stop the disclosure of which employees are carrying guns beyond school administrators and police, including parents and even other teachers. The principal, school district, and local law enforcement agency would have to agree to let staff carry guns before this could go into effect. Republican state Sen. Paul Bailey said confidentiality is important because of the element of surprise. “If you are a possible intruder, you don’t know if the person you encounter is an authorized faculty or staff member. That maybe will change their mind about coming.” 

A Solution to a Lack of School Resource Officers?

Lawmakers like Rep. Ryan Williams, the bill’s sponsor, said the legislation could solve schools struggling to find SROs. “If you’re from a rural district where resources are limited, you don’t have the ability to provide enough SROs for your community or an SRO at all; this would give you an opportunity to find a different pathway with training, fingerprints, mental evaluation,” Williams said. Supporters of the bill also feel it would be a good deterrent for potential school shooters. 

Would this be a Requirement?

Only a handful of GOP senators spoke in favor of the bill, stressing that teachers would not be required to be armed or use their weapons in active shooter situations. They said it could be especially helpful in rural counties with limited law enforcement. 

Emotional Reactions

Democratic state Sen. London Lamar, who was holding her 8-month-old son, said, “This bill is dangerous, and teachers don’t want it. Nobody wants it. My child is at risk under this bill.” She added that she was shocked at her colleagues for laughing about the bill. “I am offended by many of my colleagues on the floor. This is one of the most dangerous pieces of legislation to come out of this assembly. They took an oath to give our kids writing and arithmetic, and we are now making them as law enforcement. It will enable the next school shooter. It’s going to be a teacher with this next legislation. Use common sense.”

Protesters Were Removed

The galleries were considered too rowdy, so Senate Speaker Randy McNally removed them. Many protesters refused to quiet down even as he gaveled them down repeatedly for disruptions. In the nearly 15 minutes it took to remove the audience and resume the debate, they continued chanting, “Vote them out, No more silence, end gun violence,” and “Kill the bill, not the kids.” Some protestors refused to leave, prompting arrests. 

“People were damn mad,” Nashville mom Carol Buckley Frazier told Chalkbeat later. A group of parents from The Covenant School, where the deadly shooting occurred one year ago, were on the balcony but were allowed to stay. They wore school colors or had ribbons pinned to their chests. Since last year, they have had a consistent presence on Capitol Hill, meeting with legislators, attending committee meetings, and advocating for gun reforms.

What Happens Next?

The legislation still needs to be voted on by the full House. If it passes there, Tennessee will be on the verge of enacting a law that most teachers and parents oppose. According to the latest annual poll by the Vanderbilt Center for Child Health Policy, school safety is one of parents’ top education concerns. Still, significantly fewer parents said yes when asked if schools would be safer if teachers were armed. 

Overall, it sounds like this bill is being used in lieu of proper funding for safety precautions at rural schools. When a person with mental health problems decides to open fire in a school, the possible presence of another person with a gun doesn’t usually factor into their decision. In fact, some hope to be killed in the process that way.

There is very strong research that shows that if you want to stop a school shooting, you can do so by providing a lot more mental health resources to both our students and the general public. You can read more about five major school shootings that could have been prevented in this heavily researched article. You can track HB1202 here. 

As always, the best way to show how you feel about things is to get out and vote. Show your students how important voting is with these VOTE earrings or these RBG earrings!