Opponents say retired officers may be too old to carry guns in schools

A limited bill supported by Governor Bill Haslam would allow retired police officers who are now teachers to carry a gun to class. Image courtesy Chameleon Associates

A limited bill supported by Governor Bill Haslam would allow retired police officers who are now teachers to carry a gun to class. Image courtesy Chameleon Associates

Democrats are still coming up with new ways to slow down a move in the state legislature to arm some teachers. They say former law enforcement officers may be too old to safely carry guns in class.

There are about a hundred teachers in Tennessee public schools who might qualify. A few are still in their 40s, though most are much older. So age concerns have been raised.

“I’m concerned that when someone is older and may not have had that psychological testing done in 20 or 30 years, how they would react to a circumstance that would not justify use of a firearm,” Rep. Gary Odom (D-Nashville) said on the floor of the House, shortly before a vote to approve the bill.

The legislation is scheduled to be considered in the Senate Thursday.

Sen. Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains) is the sponsor and says his own father carried a pistol into his 90s.

“Well the old cowboy saying is you’re never too old as long as you can cock your pistol,” he said.

Democrats have made several excuses for not voting to allow retired officers to carry weapons. Some say the state should just ante up and fund actual school resource officers.

Besides the minority party, just about everyone else has signed off on the proposal, from Governor Bill Haslam to the Tennessee Education Association.

But Rep. Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville) – a teacher herself – says she’s fundamentally opposed to any educator carrying a weapon.

“Arming folks whose primary job is not securing the school is not a good idea,” she said. “I think it’s taking away from the primary reason we are there.

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