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Proposed LA House Bill to allow K-12 teachers to carry concealed weapons

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LOUISIANA -

In recent years, our nation has dealt with horrific tragedies on school campuses.  And because of that, some lawmakers have worked to ensure no parent or community has to go through the pain those in Newtown or in Littleton had to endure.

But doing that is complicated.  Across the country there have been several legislative attempts to allow weapons to be carried by teachers and administrators on school campuses - ranging from colleges and universities to elementary schools. Now a new bill in Louisiana is looking to do the same.  But as has been the case in other states - those who would be most affected by the legislation are not always in support of it.

Schools are a place of learning and growth, and ours are currently "gun-free zones."  Louisiana House Bill 707 would allow teachers and administrators at schools K-12, who have a concealed handgun permit, to carry guns on school property.  The bill mandates an additional eight hours of tactical training annually.  

Republican Representative Ray Garofalo (District 103) says his bill aims is to send a strong message to potential attackers.  "The main goal behind this is to tell the criminals and the crazies, we don't have the welcome mat out. This is not a place you want to go to kill as many people as possible before the police arrive."  He says we trust our teachers to educate our children, why not trust them to protect our kids?  Garofalo says he's received some pushback and concerns - but is pushing the bill forward.

KTBS asked him what kind of support he has behind this push.

"I have several legislators behind it, the NRA's behind it.  So, as far as seeing the wisdom of giving individuals the ability to protect themselves, anyone who doesn't disagree with that is going to be on the side of this bill.

We reached out to educators and law enforcement in the state about this bill.  Jackie Lansdale is the president of Red River United - her organization represents the teachers in Caddo and Bossier Parishes.

"Whenever you have police officer and security officers, these are people that are trained, that had the mentality to carry weapons.  I can't marry the thought of being a teacher along with being a security coordinator," she says.  "You know when we go to college to prepare to be teachers there is not a class on firearms, so that's kind of contrary to what we think a teacher's responsibility should be."

Currently, both Bossier and Caddo parish have school resource officers at many of the schools who do carry weapons.  Lansdale says before considering putting guns in the hands of our teachers, there are other, simpler options to consider - like putting school resource officers at every school.

"I think it's unsettling. You come into English to learn about Hamlet, or Julius Caesar and Shakespeare and that type of thing, you don't come into to worry about where is the handgun."

The Louisiana Sheriff's Association has also raised concerns about this legislation.  While the executive of director tells KTBS the LSA has not formally taken a position on the bill, he says the LSA is concerned if officers arrive at the scene of a shooting, it may be unclear to them who the dangerous shooter is.  The LSA is set to vote on Wednesday March 19th whether to oppose the bill, or just continue to monitor it.  In response to their concerns, Garofalo says "That is definitely an issue, but given the choice, I have to make a decision. Do I think it's best for us to enact this legislation...or say no, I'm just going to leave this situation as is, and a criminal crazy, who is looking for the least amount of resistance, is going to potentially go to a school, like what happened in Newtown, and is going to kill as many people as possible before the police arrive? I think that my solution is the better solution."

All local school officials we spoke with were adamant that their campuses are gun free zones- and that they should stay that way.  After speaking with the sponsor of the bill, it's unclear whether current gun free policies would be sufficient enough to keep weapons off school campuses if this became law.

School districts would be able to opt-out of this all together, and keep their campuses gun free. The opt-out provision has been the key to passing legislation like this in other states.  We saw this play out in Arkansas at the college level.  The decision to ban or allow concealed carry weapons on campuses is made by each college or university. According to ArmedCampus.org, as of the beginning of this school year (August 2013), every campus had opted out, voting to keep their school's gun free.  

 

Related articles:

http://www.ktbs.com/story/22393575/east-texas-school-increase-campus-security





http://www.ktbs.com/story/23023978/ark-ag-schools-cant-arm-teachers-staff

 

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