(Memphis) In Tennessee classrooms, teachers are usually armed with notebook paper, pens and pencils, but there’s a new law allowing some to be armed with guns.
Clyde Bell says the time has come when teachers might need to pack heat.
“I’m looking at teacher safety. I think it’s a good idea. Yeah, it’s kind of dangerous in the school system for the teachers and women,” Bell said.
Tennessee lawmakers passed legislation this spring that allows certain school employees to carry concealed weapons beginning July 1st. The employee must have a handgun carry permit, complete a 40-hour school-policing course and have the superintendent’s permission.
The new Shelby County School district hasn’t taken up in the issue, but school board commissioner Martavious Jones said he would be against it.
“Individually, I must stress that I am totally against the idea of arming teachers. I think that specially trained individuals such as commissioned police officers with the police department and sheriff’s department are more capable to handle the responsibilities that come with carrying a firearm,” Jones said.
The measure is a direct response to the Newtown shooting disaster.
Keith Williams, president of the Memphis-Shelby County Education Association, said there are too many unanswered questions involving teachers and firearms.
“Mrs. Jones may be a grand, great teacher. Mrs. Jones doesn’t need a weapon. Under what conditions could these weapons be used? Would they be stored? Who would have access? What about the liability, the insurance?” Williams said.
Regarding insurance, the state’s largest K-12 insurance provider, Tennessee Risk Management Trust, has not reached a decision if the price of its coverage would increase if employees carried guns.
“I think we are on a slippery slope if we let our schools be the Wild, Wild West,” Jones said.
More than 30 state legislatures introduced bills that allow staff members to carry guns in public or private schools this year.