Bill proposes to allow trained teachers to carry firearms

Published 7:00 am Thursday, March 1, 2018

After being passed by the House, several amendments were made to House Bill 1083. It is now in the hands of the Senate.

If passed, this amendment would allow teachers and other select faculty members to carry firearms onto public and private school property.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Currently, firearms are not allowed on any school property unless that person is a law enforcement officer or guard, including schools within Pearl River County. However, if passed into law, House Bill 1083 would not only allow advanced conceal carry permit holders to enter most school property with a firearm, but it would provide special allowances to select teachers and faculty members.

According to the bill, several steps would need to be taken for teachers to become part of the school’s safety program. To become eligible, a teacher must receive a firearms permit and complete an instructional safety course. They must also take part in a Mississippi Department of Public Safety approved school-safety program at least once every two years.

Several advanced safety topics would be covered in the school-safety training, including, “the protection of students on a school campus, interaction of license holders with first responders, tactics for denying an intruder entry into a classroom or school facility, and methods for increasing a license holder’s accurate use of a handgun while under duress,” the bill states.

At least 12 hours of training must be completed to earn certification.

If passed, teachers who have received all required training and certification would receive immunity from any civil liability or violation of criminal law as long as they can prove that they were acting within their duties as a safety program member for the protection of students, faculty members and visitors on or near a school campus, according to the bill.

The introduction of this safety act has sparked controversy among many prominent education leaders.

In response to the bill, Mississippi Association of Educators President Joyce Helmick released the following statement, “Having more guns in schools is not the answer to school safety. In fact, it is the opposite of making schools safer. Teachers are already charged with so many responsibilities outside their roles as educators – the idea that they should now be asked to serve as armed guards is ridiculous.”

Pearl River County School District Superintendent Alan Lumpkin said that more research will need to be done and more information provided about the training and recruitment process before he can form an opinion on the matter. He added that allowing teachers to carry firearms is a big step and not a decision to be taken lightly.

“Teachers have a tremendous amount of responsibility on them already,” he said.

Picayune School District Assistant Superintendent Brent Harrell said he did not have an opinion because he has not read the bill yet.