Tennessee and Iowa Move to Arm Teachers After School Shootings

TN teachers gun bill

Having teachers and school staff carry concealed handguns is the newest way Republicans are trying to address school shootings while keeping gun lobbyists happy, a move that critics say is unpopular and does not address the root issue: access to guns.

In Tennessee, SB 1325 allows faculty or staff at schools to carry a concealed handgun on campus if they receive police approval, psychological evaluation, and 40 hours of annual training. After making it through the Tennessee Senate, the bill passed the state House on Tuesday in a 68-28 vote and now goes before Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) to be signed into law.

The bill comes a little more than a year after a school shooting that killed six at The Covenant School in Nashville roiled the state. Last week, Iowa’s Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed similar legislation into law that also allows teachers and staff to carry weapons on school grounds.

Angela Ferrell-Zabala, executive director of the gun control group Moms Demand Action, tells Rolling Stone that there is no research or evidence for arming teachers to make schools safer, and that these bills try to justify a “guns everywhere culture.”

“If it did make us safer — more guns — we’d be one of the safest countries on earth,” says Ferrell-Zabala. “But that’s not the case.”

The Iowa law, which passed three months after a school shooting killed two people and injured six in Perry, Iowa, allows school employees to receive a new permit to carry firearms on school grounds. It also grants qualified immunity to school districts and armed employees for “the use of reasonable force,” and requires districts with over 8,000 students enrolled to have at least one armed school resource officer unless the district opts out.

The National Rifle Association and the Iowa Firearms Coalition lobbied in favor of the new law, according to state records. The NRA’s lobbying arm applauded Reynolds for signing the legislation, praising the governor and lawmakers “for their continued commitment to our Second Amendment rights.”

The Tennessee and Iowa school measures share many similarities, including maintaining the confidentiality of those who carry firearms, preventing parents and students from knowing who is carrying a firearm on campus at any given moment.

“It’s a dangerous precedent that they’re setting,” Ferrell-Zabala said, adding that there are only 16 states with legislation against arming teachers. 


Some other bills currently making their way through state legislatures include HB 1440, which would also allow some teachers to carry concealed handguns, and SB 173 in Alaska, which would allow “qualified persons” to have concealed handguns on campus under certain conditions. 

“Expressing outrage for this is really important,” Ferrell-Zabala said. “The more that lawmakers hear from their constituents about how absolutely ridiculous this is, the better.”

Source link: https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/tennessee-iowa-republicans-arm-teachers-schools-1235010148/

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