Last week HB 1380 – a bill from Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville) to allow teachers to arm themselves in Tennessee’s schools – passed out of the K-12 subcommittee, despite every single witness who testified making a case in opposition, including a teacher, a student, a former teacher, and 3 representatives from law enforcement.
Watch the Highlights:
The Senate version is SB1399 by Sen. Mike Bell (R-Riceville).
The two measures are scheduled to be heard on the same day this week: Wednesday, April 10th.
The bill, as amended, allows the carrying of loaded, concealed weapons by school employees with permits. The names of the employees would be kept confidential, though it appears neither the school nor the state would be held liable for any of the employee’s actions in relation to a shooting incident.
Law enforcement witnesses included Brink Fidler, a former Metro Nashville plainclothes officer, Sheriff John Fuson of Montgomery County, representing the Tennessee Sheriffs Association, and Colonel Dereck Stewart of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
They all were concerned about training and allowing teachers to teach and law enforcement to handle those duties.Sheriff Fuson also pointed out the issue of responding officers differentiating between well-intentioned school employees and an active shooter.
House Education Committee chair Rep. Mark White (R-Memphis) said he talked to authorities at a Kentucky school in the aftermath of a shooting there, who said arming teachers “would’ve been the worst thing they could to.”
Rep. Williams responded that Parkland’s authorities thought differently.
Rep. Iris Rudder (R-Winchester) felt it was a “discussion worth having” and helped it pass to full committee, while Rep. John Mark Windle (D-Livingston) asked why Tennessee wouldn’t pay for School Resource Officers everywhere with the $1 Billion surplus.
The bill is before the house and senate committees Wednesday. Holler at your reps.