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Opinion

Should Tennessee’s teachers be armed in the classroom?

January 16th, 2013 3:23 pm by Staff Report

Should Tennessee’s teachers be armed in the classroom?

Tennessee lawmakers could soon consider bills to allow teachers to carry weapons into schools. The legislation comes as a result of the deadly shooting last month at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
The (Nashville) Tennessean reported earlier this month that several state legislators have drafted legislation that would encourage school districts to place at least one armed police officer in every school and would allow teachers who have undergone special training to take their own handguns into schools.
The Tennessean also reported last week that at least one city in Middle Tennessee is considering paying for teachers to take a gun training course.
Such legislation would reverse the practice of making schools “gun-free” zones. Officials with the National Rifle Association argue that banning legal weapons from school zones encourages disturbed individuals to select such areas for gun violence.
Critics of doing away with gun prohibitions in school zones, however, say allowing teachers to carry guns into classrooms will make schools less safe by letting untrained marksmen take their guns into spaces filled with children.
The Tennessean reported that the National Education Association and Professional Educators of Tennessee are against the idea of allowing teachers to go armed. Gov. Bill Haslam and House Speaker Beth Harwell, both Republicans, have also questioned the merits of arming teachers.
Even so, the idea is being embraced by many members of the Republican-controlled state General Assembly. At least two bills have been drafted to allow teachers to carry guns.
Some local government officials have also expressed support for arming teachers.
City officials in Mt. Juliet have approved a resolution promising to waive fees for Wilson County teachers who want to take the city’s handgun training course.
And last month a Sullivan County commissioner told his colleagues he believes school principals should be required to go armed at all times while on the job, and that Tennesseeans with gun-carry permits should be able to take them into schools, courthouses and other public places.
“Thank God for guns,” Commissioner Baxter Hood said.
We want to hear from you. Should Tennessee’s teachers be armed in the classroom?
Send comments to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717, or mailbag@johnsoncitypress.com. Include your name, phone number and address for verification. We will print responses in the coming weeks.

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