https://www.theepochtimes.com/louisiana-lawmakers-discuss-arming-teachers_4513303.html

Louisiana lawmakers have brought the state into the national conversation over whether teachers should be armed.

An amendment to proposed constitutional-carry legislation in Louisiana would allow for the voluntary training and arming of teachers and staff at elementary and secondary schools. The initial intent of House Bill 37 was to give citizens 21 and older the right to carry a concealed firearm without requiring a permit or training.

Midway through the Louisiana Senate’s Revenue and Fiscal Affairs meeting on June 1, during which Republican state Rep. Danny McCormick’s proposal was debated, Republican state Sen. Eddie Lambert brought up the topic of safety in schools, leading to the discussion that many are having nationwide: whether teachers should be armed.

“Do you feel like maybe we need to have more safety in schools, maybe qualified people who are carrying guns in schools because they have the training?” Lambert asked McCormick, who answered, “I think that’s a top priority right now when you consider what we’ve seen.”

Lambert referenced the Uvalde, Texas, shooting on May 24 at Robb Elementary School, where it was reported that law enforcement officials had a delayed response.

The amendment replaced the constitutional-carry proposal with a provision to create voluntary school protection officers.

“Any school district in the state may authorize one or more elementary and secondary school teachers, school administrators, or school protection officers to carry a concealed weapon on the school grounds in the district,” Lambert said. “The purpose of this is to prevent something like what happened in Uvalde and in these other schools.”

Teachers would have to be certified through training, he said.

“I think this is the last chance to really do something since we can’t file additional bills, and I think with the safety involved and the situation we have, I think it’s an opportunity that we can’t pass up,” Lambert said, referencing the end of the legislative session on June 6.

He said that given how much time elapsed before police intervened, having a certified staff member already in a school building where a shooting is taking place could make a difference.

Regarding the constitutional-carry section of the bill, that could be brought back next year, Lambert said.

“This is the last bite of the apple,” Lambert said. “We have a chance to pass something that will address school safety. That’s the issue.”

The situation, Lambert said, is how to eliminate the threat in schools “as fast as possible.”

“I think this bill has better potential than anything else,” he said.

While Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, will likely veto the bill, since the overall argument for Democrats is that arming teachers “would send the wrong message,” the discussion brings the state into the national debate, along with states such as Ohio and Texas.

The Louisiana Federation of Teachers issued a statement in opposition to the revised bill, stating that state teachers “are already overworked and underpaid,” adding that it wouldn’t be fair to require them to “possibly kill a child that they have taught.”

“These amendments would allow school districts to appoint teachers and school administrators to become voluntary ‘school protection officers’ who are authorized to carry a concealed firearm in school,” the union said. “This new law would put all of the responsibility and liability directly onto our teachers. Teachers would be expected to provide their own gun, obtain their own concealed carry firearm permit, complete a minimum of 400 hours of training on their own personal time, and carry all the responsibility and liability if anything goes wrong.”

The teachers union said there needs to be “thoughtful and meaningful action” to keep schools safe that requires a “multifaceted approach,” not a law “hastily thrown together in the last days of the legislative session.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Matt McGregor covers news from North and South Carolina for The Epoch Times. Send him your story ideas:
matt.mcgregor@epochtimes.us

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