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Bill to allow teachers to be armed passes Indiana House



Indianapolis, Indiana – On mainly partisan lines, Indiana lawmakers advanced legislation arming K–12 educators there.

On February 14, 2014—exactly five years after a shooter killed 17 students at a South Florida high school—House Bill 1177 was approved. The Indiana Senate will now consider the bill.

“What we’ve seen in these incidents, time and time again is when the shooter comes in and starts shooting, when seconds count, the police are minutes away,” said bill sponsor Rep. Jim Lucas, of Seymour.

The optional initiative would be funded by state funds already set out for school safety. Volunteers would have to go through the same kind of firearms training as law enforcement officers, as well as a psychiatric evaluation.

“We designed this class that starts with firearms safety, weapon retention, and it goes quite extensively into shooter situations, scenarios range time,” Lucas said.

In Indiana, the concept is not new. A program in the Shelby Eastern School District permits staff members and teachers to carry weapons. A grant from Homeland Security was used to fund that initiative.

The bill was condemned by Indiana House Democrats for going too far.

“The Indiana GOP and gun lobby’s approach to gun violence is more guns. This haphazard policy is another sloppy solution that will only endanger more lives. Each day we refuse to take this problem seriously is another day that a Hoosier is at risk of dying in a school, church, or grocery store. House Bill 1177 unfortunately passed the House this week. Hopefully my colleagues in the Senate have more sense than to continue pushing this bill through the legislative process.” -House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta, D-Ft. Wayne.

As the bill was discussed in the House Education Committee, the Indiana State Teachers Association gave a “neutral” testimony in support of it. It opposed requiring instructors to complete the training.

“We do support the language in the bill that seeks to protect educators who are being asked to participate in active shooter trainings that include being shot with projectiles. The bill would require written warning and consent. This is an issue that occurred to several of our members, and we have been asking for this language for a few years now.” -ISTA Senior Public Affairs Advisor Keith. Clock