Tenn. Legislature considers bill to arm teachers

Mar 1, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WMOT/AP)  --  A proposal is moving ahead in the State Legislature to allow more teachers to carry guns in Tennessee schools.

Testimony during a hearing yesterday in the House Civil Justice Subcommittee largely opposed the measure. Among those panning the bill were speakers for the state Department of Education and the Tennessee Sheriff’s Association.

Concerns ranged from how well trained armed teachers might be to whether some school systems might opt to replace expensive school police officers with less costly armed teachers.

But Republican Rep. Andrew Farmer joined several committee members in giving the bill qualified support.

“I don’t particularly think it’s a good idea asking our teachers to carry guns in the schools, but if it’s going to protect the kids…if we can save … one child’s life having a teacher carry just for now until we can get this funded, then I’m all for it.”

Republican Subcommittee Chair Mike Carter grew visibly frustrated as debate wore on. He cut off Rep. G. A Hardaway as the Memphis Democrat asked a training expert how often armed teachers could be expected to hit what they shot at.

He expressed frustration again with reps from the Department of Education, challenging them to find the $40 million additional dollars needed to place a police officer in every Tennessee school.

“The SRO (School Resource Officer) program is what we all want. Do you have any funding to help these distressed counties? Would you prefer that they be unprotected?"

The bill goes next to the full Civil Justice Committee. The State Senate has not yet considered the measure.