Teacher gun-training legislation passes Indiana House

The Indiana House approved a bill Tuesday that would begin a state-funded handgun training program for teachers that critics argue would wrongly encourage more guns in classrooms across the state.

The Republican-backed bill passed in a 71-24 vote predominantly on party lines, with supporters saying the training would give teachers opportunities to defend themselves and students if needed. State law currently allows school districts to permit teachers to be armed, but no training is mandated.

“Sadly, it’s something that’s necessary for the tragic world we live in today,” said bill sponsor Republican Rep. Jim Lucas, of Seymour.

The House education committee passed the bill 9-4 on party lines earlier this month. In that hearing, Lucas stressed the training program would be voluntary and paid for by the state, with about 40 hours of instruction for teachers.

Democratic Rep. Tonya Pfaff, a math teacher from Terre Haute, objected that the proposal would lead to “more guns in school,” citing the risks associated with having guns in the classroom and worries that students could access the weapon or take it from a teacher.

“We want to teach, nurture and inspire students,” Pfaff said during Tuesday’s debate. “We don’t want to carry guns on our hips and normalize guns in schools.”

Efforts by Indiana lawmakers to offer additional training failed in recent years amid opposition from both gun-rights advocates, who said the training mandates overstepped local control, and gun-control proponents, who argued such steps were aimed at arming teachers.

A handful of Indiana school districts currently allow some teachers to carry guns. School safety gained attention around Indiana following shootings in 2018 at a Noblesville middle school, in which a boy wounded a classmate and teacher, and at a Richmond middle school, where a boy shot out a door and fired at officers before killing himself.

Indiana lawmakers repealed a permit requirement for those carrying a gun in public at the previous legislative session. All residents age 18 or older—except those with a felony conviction, face a restraining order or have a dangerous mental illness—can carry a handgun in public.

That bill faced opposition from the Indiana police superintendent and several statewide law enforcement groups, who said eliminating the permit system would endanger officers by stripping them of a screening tool for quickly identifying dangerous people who shouldn’t have guns.

Lucas cited the shooting this past summer at a shopping mall in the Indianapolis suburb of Greenwood, when a man opened fire in the mall’s food court, shooting five people, three fatally, before a bystander fatally shot the shooter.

“Guns are part of the American way of life,” Lucas said. “It’s enshrined in our Constitution. It’s enshrined in our Bill of Rights.”

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7 thoughts on “Teacher gun-training legislation passes Indiana House

    1. Agreed. This is insane and accepting and normalizing this country’s sick and twisted gun culture manufactured by the gun lobby and the politicians dependent on their money. Our founding fathers NEVER envisioned this nightmare.

    2. Unlike most Republicans, you’re in the “reality based community”, so I can see how your confused.

    3. We have rich and storied evidence of how well restricting gun usage helps prevent gun crime.

      I mean, gun-free zones are 100% safe. People intent on mass shootings avoid these places because there are signs out front telling them not to. And signs matter.

      Cities with the strictest gun control have the lowest homicide rates. The only reason Chicago has high crime is because it’s so close to rootin-tootin Indiana. Never mind the fact, of course, that the remaining 200 miles of Indiana-Illinois border south of Chicago show no similar evidence of high homicide rates from trafficking into Illinois over state lines.

      And restrictions on high capacity assault weapons really help keep gang violence down. Because we know that the illegally held firearms of gangbangers are 5 to 10-lb assault rifles that are subtle and easy to conceal in baggy clothes. They are responsible for most deaths in the inner city. And we care DEEPLY about reducing deaths in the inner city.

      And, most important of all, the public appetite for firearm restriction is super duper high after the 2020 decision across urban America to essentially “reimagine policing” so that many crimes are tolerated, if not outright encourage. Having experienced the highest year-to-year uptick in crime in the nation’s recorded history, people feel much more confident that criminals will just start being nicer now that the police have their hands tied. Absolutely no reason to need to defend themselves. The fact that many firearms have 6-12 month wait lists, it’s tough to buy ammunition, and even spare cartridges are hard to find…pure coincidence.

      Such a shame I’m too dumb to join the “reality based community” that really understands these root causes! The 2A scholars here at IBJ clearly need to sit me down and explain to me what the Founding Fathers really intended. And they need to use really small words.

  1. If the pro-gun lobby and its allies in the state legislation knew about the intent of the “well-regulated militia” reference in the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution, we would not need to arm teachers to defend our children against mass murders.

    That is because as written the amendment guarantees the “right to bear arms” for those who could be called to the defense of their country. Don’t believe me? Two Militia Acts, enacted by the 2nd United States Congress in 1792, provided for the organization of militia and empowered the President to take command of the state militia in times of imminent invasion or insurrection.

    The first Militia Act was passed on May 2, 1792, and provided authority to the President to call out militias of the several states, “whenever the United States shall be invaded, or be in imminent danger of invasion from any foreign nation or Indian tribe.” The second Militia Act of 1792 was passed on May 8, 1792, and provided for the organization of state militias and the conscription of every “free able-bodied white male citizen” between the ages of 18 and 45.

    It was this second Act that required these regulated militia members to equip themselves with a musket, bayonet and belt, two spare flints, a box able to contain not less than 24 suitable cartridges, and a knapsack.

    Nowhere in the 2nd Amendment is the right to bear arms granted to non-militia members, and there is simply no evidence that our Founding Fathers intended the 2nd Amendment as a means of citizens to be able to protect themselves against a tyrannical government or even to provide them a means of defending their own homes and families.

    Over time the gun lobby and right-wing politicians have twisted the intent of the 2nd Amendment to purposes that have no basis in history. Until, and unless, citizens understand the true intent of our Constitution, we are doomed to a future of more mass shootings that will never be stopped by teachers with guns.

    1. Are we trying to pretend, Brent, that your proposed near-complete banning of guns (akin your dear Fuhrer to the North, Fidel Trudeau) would be A-OK as long as the firearms are owned by a militia?

      Let’s get real. The same people seeking more firearm restrictions are always ringing the alarm about scary “extremist” militias. If the organized militias ever became more prevalent that individually owned firearms through citizens with legal permits and good training, the legacy media would be soiling its collective britches even more than they already are.

      Gun ownership was nearly universal at the time of the Founding Fathers, even if mostly to get rid of nearby “varmints”. Do you really think the revolutionists would have won against the most powerful nation in the world if guns weren’t widely available? The first real federal-level gun control didn’t occur until 1875 (US v. Cruikshank) and it was largely to keep those pesky former slaves from doing anything about the subjugation and vote suppression imposed on them by–well, by the same party seeking most gun control today.

      I don’t even own a gun. I just have a reasonable clue about human nature and hamfisted, top-down ways to try to mold it different…which inevitably fail.

    2. Lauren, your comprehension of my post is sorely lacking. The point is that there is nothing about the 2nd Amendment that prohibits restrictions of firearms, contrary to the propaganda put forth by the gun lobby, right-wing politicians, and their right-wing appointed judges – all of which an understanding of the intent of the Militia Acts makes clear.

      You obviously have fallen prey to the “guns don’t kill people, but people kill people.” That’s a half-truth inasmuch as “people with guns find it far easier to kill far more people…with guns.” Just go to Uvalde (or any other community where mass shootings have occurred) and see how out of touch you are.