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Teachers with guns?

Feb 13

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013  RssIcon

from The Star Press 

MUNCIE — Should teachers be armed with more than lessons in the classroom?

Local school and law enforcement officials say “no.”

In the wake of the mass shooting in December at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., lawmakers in at least five states have proposed bills that would allow teachers to carry handguns.

In fact, Republican state Sen. Jim Tomes said recently that he had planned to introduce similar legislation here until he learned that the state already allows teachers to carry guns in certain situations.

A school district’s administration and board can give the OK for employees to “act as a security guard, perform or participate in a school function, or participate in any other activity authorized by a school."

During a school safety panel discuss last week at the Suzanne Gresham Center (presented by Meridian Services), several local superintendents weighed in on the issue.

“I would never go for that,” said Muncie Community Schools Supt. Tim Heller. “It would be twice as bad as it is now.”

Jennifer McCormick, superintendent of Yorktown Community Schools, said “on so many levels, it’s not appropriate.”

She said administrators there have discussed it and “the majority of them did not feel comfortable with it.”

“The comfort level of someone handling weapons in a school is something we should really consider before we do such a thing,” she said.

"There are several reasons why we don’t want to do that,” said Steve Hall superintendent of Delaware Community Schools. “Most of our people who go into education are not properly trained or have that kind of experience. But I would also be concerned about the fact that by providing 30 to 40 weapons in the building, that someone might be overpowered ... you’ve just provided people with an arsenal that’s already in your building.”

Muncie Police Chief Steve agreed.

“You’ve now put all these guns in the school building and someone gets overpowered, then you’ve made all these weapons available to them. You take a school the size of a Muncie Central or Yorktown and you have every teacher armed in that situation? I don’t think it’s a good move at all.”

Steve McColley, superintendent of Wes-Del Community Schools, said it’s not unheard of for kids to take weapons from their mom or dad. “What if a teacher has it in a purse and walks out to go to the restroom and someone takes it. ... It’s just not the answer,” he said.

Pat Kennedy, president of the Muncie Teachers Association, said guns do not belong in the classroom.

Kennedy said the subject came up during the last Muncie Teachers Association meeting a few weeks ago.

“It was 100 percent across the board, the teachers did not think that becoming armed with weapons would make us any safer,” she said.

But some school districts, including Noble County, are considering taking advantage of the state law. Under a plan crafted by the sheriff there, officials would choose up to four teachers in each school to undergo free firearms training and be appointed as special deputies. The teachers' authority would be limited to school buildings. The school board there last week voted to consider it. A final vote is expected next month.

Kennedy said districts like Muncie need to make sure they are doing “everything else right.”

“We need to make sure our visitors policy is implemented 100 percent. We need to make sure doors are not being propped open. We need to make sure we know how to react in situations because the truth is, if someone wants to get into a building, they will.” 

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