Natchez school leaders against armed teachers
Published 1:01 am Thursday, March 1, 2018
NATCHEZ — A bill in the Mississippi Senate would allow certified teachers to carry firearms on school campuses, but Natchez-Adams Schools officials say they are not in favor of the practice.
“I’m totally against that,” Superintendent Fred Butcher said, referring to Mississippi House Bill 1083.
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Senators in the judiciary committee passed amendments to the house bill that would allow educators with training and permits to carry weapons on school or college campuses.
The amended bill, which must now pass the senate and house before heading to the governor’s desk, stipulates that teachers must undergo 12 hours of firearms training every two years and have enhanced concealed carry training and permits to carry a concealed weapon in schools.
But the bill is not compulsory; local school boards would have to pass the measure for it to be enacted.
Butcher said though he could not speak for the entire school board, he would not personally recommend the board accept the amendment.
“Teachers are trained to educate our children, to be productive and to help students succeed,” Butcher said. “Not to carry weapons.”
Even with the additional firearms training, Butcher said placing the lives of students in teachers’ hands was simply too much to ask.
Butcher said placing guns in the classroom increased the chance of an accident, regardless of whether the teacher is trained.
“It’s a risk,” Butcher said. “I wouldn’t recommend we pass it.”
Deputy Superintendent Zandra McDonald said she, too, disagreed with the bill and would not recommend it.
The amendments would create a “school safety program” in which certain employees who meet the training and permit requirements would be able to take their concealed weapons on campus and into classrooms.
All persons who become a member of the safety program must be reported to both school administrators and local law enforcement.
The language of the amended bill also says member of the school safety program is “immune from civil liability” for any action taken during “the reasonable exercise of and within the course and scope of the designated member’s official duties” — meaning the employee is automatically given immunity in the if the situation is deemed to be life-threatening.
If passed by the senate, house and signed by the governor, the bill would go into effect as early as July 1, 2018.
The amendments would also allow universities to prohibit guns at sporting events, contrary to the original house bill, which aimed at easing the process of suing public agencies that have a gun ban.
Though many universities and colleges have prohibited concealed weapons at sporting events, a law passed in 2011 allows those who have concealed carry permits to take those weapons on campuses and in stadiums.