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Mississippi Senate committee passes bill allowing teachers, staff to be armed

JACKSON, Miss. — The Senate Judiciary Committee has passed a bill to allow certain faculty and staff to carry on school campuses.

The proposal gives school leaders the option to allow teachers and other staff members to carry concealed guns as part of the school safety plan, The Associated Press reported. It applies to private and public K-12 schools as well as universities.

It requires those teachers and other staff members who carry on school property to undergo 12 hours of enhanced law enforcement training with the Department of Public Safety every two years, The Clarion Ledger reported.

Senate Judiciary A Committee Chairman Briggs Hopson, a Vicksburg Republican, said the bill responds to recent school shootings, including in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed at a high school. President Donald Trump and the National Rifle Association support such measures.

Hopson’s measure also amends an underlying House bill to bar people with enhanced concealed carry permits from carrying guns into athletic events. That measure would allow people to challenge other gun restriction.

“The safety of our students while in the classroom should never be in question, but that is not a given in today’s schools, unfortunately,” Lt. Gov. Reeves said after the bill passed in committee. “By allowing more school staff to receive proper training on how to respond to immediate threats, I hope we can avoid the tragedies we’ve seen on campuses around the country and in Mississippi.”

The bill is an expansion of the  Mississippi Community Oriented Policing Services program, which passed in 2013. That program matched local funds to place more trained officers in public schools around the state.