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Bill calls for armed staffers at all Indiana schools

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Indiana's public and charter schools would be required to have an employee carry a loaded gun during school hours under a proposal an Indiana House committee approved Tuesday.

Supporters said the proposal could help prevent tragedies such as the December elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., in which 20 students and six teachers died. Opponents say they're concerned that the proposal was rushed, that it's unnecessary and could force schools to hire people who are willing to carry guns.

Schools would be required to always have a so-called protection officer on duty during school hours. People who fill the school protection officer positions could be police officers or other non-educators but also could be teachers or principals. Regardless, the protection officers would have to meet training standards set by a new statewide school safety board, the sponsor of the provision, Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, said.

"I've been approached by several teachers that would love the ability to have their natural right to self-defense recognized and would gladly do this without being paid," Lucas said.

The House Education Committee voted 9-3 to approve the bill, advancing it to the Republican-dominated House for consideration. The Senate would also have to approve the measure.

A National Rifle Association-sponsored study released Tuesday recommended schools across the nation each train and arm at least one staff member. South Dakota's governor last month signed into law Friday a measure allowing the state's school districts to arm teachers and other personnel with guns, but no states require armed employees in schools, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Indiana law currently prohibits anyone other than police officers and authorized school employees from possessing firearms on school property. Lucas said he know of no Indiana districts that now allow teachers to have guns at school.

Lucas added the proposal to a Senate-approved bill that that aimed to start a state grant program to help school districts hire and train police officers to work with students and buy safety equipment.

Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary, said he had concerns about requiring guns in schools and questions about how many trained employees would be needed in case the designated person was away.

"I don't think that the step is needed," Smith said. "This was hurriedly done, and it has not been thoroughly thrashed to the degree I think it ought to be."

Representatives of school, teachers and police organizations testified before the committee on Tuesday. But most offered little comment on Lucas' proposal, which was described for the first time during the meeting.

However, Todd Bess, executive director of the Indiana Association of School Principals, said schools have worked for years to establish safe environments and that he believed that can be done without having firearms in every building.

Frank Bush, executive director of the Indiana School Boards Association, said he worried that schools would need to hire additional employees where current staffers wouldn't want the additional responsibility.

"I don't see anything wrong with the notion of having someone in the school that can provide that kind of protection," Bush said.

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  • why not?
    I am a high school teacher and an ex military marksman. I have a concealed carry permit and practice on a regular basis with my firearm. (I can shoot a quarter at 21 yards.) but I am not allowed to bring my gun to school. You know what frustrates me? If some nutcase comes to school intent on harming my students all I can use to defend them is a flashlight. Think about this: If you can't trust a teacher with a gun; how can you trust them with your kids? I don't want to have to bring a gun to school, but in today's society how can we say we've done all we can to protect our kids if we don't give honest responsible people the option to use the tools available to them to protect our kids?
  • It won't work
    The evidence speaks to the contrary on this legislation...armed guard at Columbine, police force at Virginia Tech, how about the military base Fort Hood...one lunatic, who shouldn't have been allowed to purchase in the first place, kills 13 and wounds 29 in a place where almost everyone is armed...it won't stop these situations...the right person in the right place might limit the carnage, but people like James Holmes, Ryan Lanza, hold all the cards in these situations, they have the element of surprise, know one knows who they are, their motivation, they plan meticulously...you are seriously saying that one person with a sidearm dissuades someone who is carrying an assault rifle with a 300 shot magazine? Please...you are going to have to come up with something else...don't forget that Ryan Lanza was taught to shoot by his mother...she knew he had mental problems, but she thought learning to use firearms would teach him responsibility, help him mature. There is your "99% of the people who own guns are responsible owners" rhetoric in your face. She knew he had mental problems, she teaches him/enables him thinking that will somehow help him, now she and a bunch of grade school children are dead...More firearms in schools will never be the answer...it is just a knee jerk solution proposed by a legislator who wants to pretend he is doing something to make the public safer while receiving the endorsement and support of a powerful lobby. It is typical for this state though...much ado, no real solutions proposed
  • Be Careful
    Two months ago, a retired Michigan police officer, working as a school security officer, accidentally left his sidearm in the restroom. He returned to retrieve his weapon before a student came in contact with the weapon, but it illustrates what could happen in the event an emergency situation requires the control of dozens of small children, the use of a personal sidearm by teachers and administrators, who claim to be trained to operate during a firefight, as an intruder seek the employees with the weapons. Does this mean that our schools will become the training ground for future warriors? Instead of a Fire Drill, today we will have a Mock Firefight. I find this entire matter to be questionable and very scary.
  • More effective solutions to stem violence
    As hcbrand pointed out, if there were guards at Columbine, why do we believe this is the most effective legislation? When I say we, we vote these people into office. Gun Control does not have to mean an infringement on our constitutional rights. We, Americans, have a right to a weapon, plain and simple. We also have a right to collectively agree how to ensure and protect our right to a weapon. Almost all Americans agree guns could be treated as cars or, my goodness, our pets - universally licensed and registered. We also agree that background checks investigating mental health and criminal conduct be considered prior to registering a firearm to a particular individual. Why can we not agree to make this rule universal? Even if we accepted this rule, however, it would not help the endemic problem of legal weapons getting into unregistered hands. Easy solution - criminalize the negligent or reckless release of an individual's firearm. Make it criminal for an owner to not take the greatest care of their weapon. We could even mandate the sale of gun safe's or locks with every new firearm purchase. The gun industry would love it, and, more likely than not, less children would get hurt. The solution is not in arming our schools and installing cavity searches at every entry. That said, the solution is not in denying legitimate and established natural American rights. With a little common sense, we can preserve our rights and do a better job of preventing bad guys from getting their hands on weapons rather than curing the consequence of their possession. I sincerely hope our general assembly and our new found leader start to concern themselves with legitimate legislation and solutions. If not, we may have to quickly undermine their legitimacy.
  • A step backwards
    For those of you who have ever traveled to Mexico, you'll find that armed guards are prevalent at schools, restaraunts, shopping malls and other public places. One has to ask themselves, if this is the best solution that our elected officials can surmise, are they driving us backwards, or forwards? I, for one, never saw Mexico as a forward-thinking, top notch place to call home. Coincidently, the policies Indiana has been debating and passing for the past 10 years are the exact reason I relocated my family last year out of this wild-west, backwards-thinking, and discriminatory state.
  • Misdirected
    Just like gun supporters say that banning assault rifles only addresses a small amount of gun crimes, I believe that putting guns in schools only addresses a tiny fraction of gun crimes. This is little more than the legislature acting like they're doing something about guns while in effect doing very little to limit gun violence overall. I know a Newtown-like event may occur here but gun deaths are already occurring in homes and on the streets in large numbers and this does nothing to address that problem.
  • Columbine had armed gaurds
    Really disappointed that Indiana isn't supporting tougher background checks and instead is trying to attract gun manufacturers by claiming to have the most lenient firearm laws. We're on the wrong side of this argument and it's going to be even more ironic when the first accident happens in one of our schools.
  • Not this bill
    It's not that having a trained professional with a gun in the school is a bad thing. We know that making the schools so-called "gun free zones" certainly doesn't guarantee children's safety. But the state has no business mandating that the local school districts have an armed individual in every school. Leave it up to the local school districts to decide. If they need to do something, make sure that the schools/teachers can carry weapons, if well trained, but don't mandate it. Where will it end, mandating armed guards at every gathering place? The library, day cares, Chuck E. Cheese. And really, won't you need multiple armed guards at every school and other location for when the first one gets taken out due to the element of surprise?
  • tim, don't be afraid
    tim, i know we can not solve this problem through legislation alone. However, your solution is to add more guns to the mix and that IS the problem. Intelligent gun control is only the start to make a workable solution. Think....
  • Sweet
    If we can't find the money for textbooks and technology, where are we going to get the money to pay for the lawsuits the first (and second, and third, and fourth...) time a kid accidentally gets capped? Check out the number of soldiers in Afghanistan who are killed by accidental firing. And those guys are trained and alert.
  • Scary
    I bet you are of the thinking that we can legislate the problem away thru gun control?
  • Really scary
    Welp "Scary" - that just isn't how the world is. So - you either keep wishing, or find a good solution. Think
  • Funding?
    Our State Legislature struggles to find funding for education (or support background checks for gun owners), but they have no problem finding money to train "protection officers" and put firearms in our schools? The people that thrive in military state type environments may find this rational, but I would hope this is not a viewpoint shared by the majority of parents. This will absolutely not make our children safer.
  • Really scary
    What i find so disturbing is that there is no concern for allowing our children to grow up in a friendly and safe environment. If i had to go to a school that i knew needed an armed guard, i would never feel safe. There are better solutions then developing this constant fear in our children. Think....
  • good idea
    What is scary is the world we are living in now. Do you think that kids going to school knowing that nobody is there to protect them is comforting????
  • Scary
    My reaction is that I cannot believe this is being proposed. This is so wrong on so many levels. Do you really want your children to grow up with this much fear in their lives? There are many other ways that will help eliminate many of these events. Think....

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