NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The idea of arming teachers and staff in public schools has gotten a lot of talk on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill, but a state lawmaker thinks there could be a new approach.
“At the end of the day, I think the most beneficial thing that we can do for K-12 schools is literally to put signs up that say ‘teachers, faculty, staff members at this facility may be armed and have been trained in the use of deadly force,’ ” says rural West Tennessee Republican Andy Holt who has considered such a bill.
But it’s not specifically about allowing teachers or staff to carry handguns in school.
He’s looking at ways weapons could be placed throughout the school system so the guns would not have to be carried by the individual teacher or staffer.
“They could be quickly accessed and utilized and I also think that it’s very important that the people who are using those guns in those situations are very well trained, but also are voluntary,” said Holt.
Rep. Holt knows his idea would meet strong resistance if he actually files such a bill.
“Where is the weapon going to be stored?” asked Nashville school parent Beth Joslin Roth who also heads the Safe Tennessee Project. “Is it stored in the office, stored in the hallway? I mean how are you even going to get to that weapon?”
Joslin Roth is 180-degrees removed from Rep. Holt on the issue of allowing stored weapons in a K-12 educational setting. She is also an advocate on capitol hill for a variety of gun control measures.
“After having conversations with law enforcement, with school resource officers, having sat through hours and hours of testimony, (they) all make the same argument, that school safety is best left in the hands of those with the expertise to act in these situations,” said Roth.
Instead of signs and access to weapons, Roth would like to see continued funding for districts across the state to increase school resource officers or get them for the first time.
“As a parent, I welcome that,” she said. “I welcome a trained member of law enforcement with very specific experience.”
Even though he decided against filing such a bill this year, Rep. Holt maintains school personnel accessing weapons and very public signs can be a deterrent.
“So that anyone who came on that campus with an intent to hurt those students, faculty or staff members at that school would realize they are going to be met with resistance and possibly deadly force.”