Broadly Arming Teachers Dropped for Retired Officers

Schools without a resource officer could arm teachers with a law enforcement background or hire a retired officer. Image courtesy National Association of School Resource Officers

Schools without a resource officer could arm teachers with a law enforcement background or hire a retired officer. Image courtesy National Association of School Resource Officers

A proposal meant to put more armed guards in Tennessee schools has begun moving forward in the General Assembly. It offers money for schools to hire retired police officers and allows teachers with law enforcement backgrounds to carry a gun to class.

Whether a retired officer hired part-time as a security guard or a teacher already on the payroll, both would have to go through at least 40 hours of special training.

The legislation has the backing of Governor Bill Haslam and has trumped other proposals aimed at more broadly allowing teachers to go armed to class.

Some Republicans still want to mandate armed guards in every school, but others say the only reason they support this bill is because it doesn’t. Rep. Ryan Haynes of Knoxville says schools aren’t as dangerous as they’re made out to be.

“This idea that we’re going to force police officers to go into schools, that is just something we don’t need to do,” Haynes says. “Quite frankly, I think there’d be a lot of them who sit around and don’t have a whole lot to do every day.”

The chief complaint from Democrats is that the legislation absolves school districts of liability if someone is hurt by an armed teacher.

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