Mississippi vote raises question: Should Mid-South teachers be armed?

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Mississippi is one step closer to letting teachers take up arms in the classroom, but across the Mid-South opinions vary on whether it's the right way to protect students from mass shootings.

Mississippi lawmakers on Tuesday proposing letting teachers and other employees with special training to carry guns on campus.

A state Senate Committee made an amendment allowing public and private school administrators to establish school safety programs that would allow teachers to carry guns. School employees would have to receive 12 hours of training every two years from the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.

It’s an issue weighing on many people’s minds these days since the school shooting in Parkland Florida claimed the lives of 14 students and three teachers on Valentines Day.

"I think it's not a good idea for the teacher to have the guns, because you never know, what if a student is angry or something, he takes the gun from her and he shoots somebody?" said one Mississippi resident.

Horn Lake Alderman Charlie Roberts thinks differently.

"I believe teachers should carry, of course go through the proper training, I believe it needs to be concealed," Roberts said.

Keith Williams is the executive director of the Memphis, Shelby County Education Association, said most teachers he's talked to don't want the liability of carrying weapons in class.

"I have not heard a teacher who is in favor or who would support, who would want the liability of having to be strapped with a weapon to come into a school. It would almost deflate and defeat the purpose for teaching," Williams said.

Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich believes there's no one easy answer, but says something has to be done to make sure children are safer in school.

As far as arming teachers goes, “It causes concerns about making sure those teachers have adequate training, making sure they know how to react in a situation like that," Weirich said.

And in Arkansas, in a post that has since been taken off his Facebook page, Cross County Sheriff JR Smith said he is willing to deputize school staff. Those chosen by state law would then be required to complete training that includes 120 classroom and practical and active shooter training.

He also said he wants to install metal detectors at all schools in Wynne and Cross County Schools.

Smith later posted to Facebook he believes his initial post was taken down because someone reported as being offensive but, said, “I would be satisfied with a SRO in every school and metal detectors in every building and build from there.”

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