Lawmakers consider bill allowing guns in schools

Lawmakers consider bill allowing guns in schools

Posted:
"We don't need to do a knee-jerk reaction and try to change a bunch of gun laws. We all know if guns kill people, pencils misspell words," said state Sen. Nicely. "We don't need to do a knee-jerk reaction and try to change a bunch of gun laws. We all know if guns kill people, pencils misspell words," said state Sen. Nicely.
"I don't feel I'm not trained enough to carry, so that's not something I'm interested. I don't think we should arm teachers. I think that's a ludicrous idea," said Rep. Gloria Johnson. "I don't feel I'm not trained enough to carry, so that's not something I'm interested. I don't think we should arm teachers. I think that's a ludicrous idea," said Rep. Gloria Johnson.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Legislation that would make it easier for gun owners to carry their weapons in public appears to be on track in Tennessee even after last week's school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

Governor Bill Haslam said Monday that legislators should not alter Tennessee's gun laws in light of the shooting, but that's not stopping some lawmakers from his own party.

Two state lawmakers are planning to introduce legislation to allowing teachers to be armed.

State Sen. Frank Nicely believes at least one person in every school in Tennessee should be armed.  

"We don't need to do a knee-jerk reaction and try to change a bunch of gun laws. We all know if guns kill people, pencils misspell words," said Sen. Nicely. 

That's why Nicely is looking to propose legislation requiring schools to either have a school resource officer or train one or more staff members in use of firearms and dealing with violent attacks.   

"It doesn't have to be a teacher. It could be a coach, it could be a maintenance man. At least one person on the school that is trained in psychological evaluations, and proper testing and evaluation to where they can handle a situation," said Nicely.

Although most middle and high schools already have armed officers, Nicely says his bill could allow schools that can't afford a resource officer to fulfill the requirement without spending extra money.

"A lot of these elementary schools in Tennessee don't have resource officers. I know money is tight and many schools can't afford it," said Nicely.  

State Sen. Stacy Campfield is working on a similar bill, allowing teachers with carry permits to carry guns into schools if there is no school resource officer.

"It's pretty simple to me to see gun-free zones don't work. I don't know how much more we have to see of this. They do not stop someone who has a criminal intent in their heart," said Campfield.  

Knox County Schools has 45 school resource officers in all of the middle and high schools and in some elementary schools.  

Democratic state representative and high school teacher Gloria Johnson opposes more guns in schools; she's even a gun owner herself.      

"I don't feel I'm not trained enough to carry, so that's not something I'm interested. I don't think we should arm teachers. I think that's a ludicrous idea," said Rep. Johnson.

Johnson said the debate should focus on improving mental health services statewide.

Gov. Haslam and other Republicans agree, but Senator Campfield notes, "You can't help everyone diagnosed with a mental problem."

The new bills could be considered during Tennessee's General Assembly, which begins Jan. 8.  

Coal Creek Armory in West Knoxville is offering to provide free training classes for teachers if Senator Campfield's proposal becomes law.  

The owners have done the same thing for airline pilots and military law enforcement.

They say training would be continuous and would include how to safely use and store weapons and how react in a situation like the one in Connecticut.  

"If you look at the teachers that put their lives in line and lost their lives to save the students there, it's amazing. What else can we do to help them out? Law enforcement can't be everywhere all the time," said Eric Matson, co-owner of Coal Creek Armory.

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