Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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Williams: Allowing Teachers To Carry Weapons A Deterrent

The Tennessee House could take up the bill this week allowing faculty and staff to carry concealed weapons on K-12 campuses.

State Representative Ryan Williams said staffers would be required to have an enhanced carry permit, provide an additional fingerprint, and undergo 40 hours of active shooter training. He said they would also need to pass the same mental health and background checks law enforcement takes.

“When somebody wants to do a criminal act on a school, they generally find deterrents to be the biggest impediment,” Williams said. “And so, if a deterrent exists, or the idea of a deterrent exists, then I believe that makes the school much safer.”

The State Senate passed the bill last week. It’s currently being held in the house. It is unclear whether Williams’ bill will come before the House again before the legislature adjourns for the year. Williams said the bill is based on a committee report from the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Williams said schools could put signage outside of the building disclosing that a staffer outside of an SRO may be carrying a weapon. He said Nashville’s Covenant School shooting illustrated the importance of such deterrents. He said for the bill to come into effect, the State House of Representatives would need to pass the bill with the same verbiage that the Senate did.

“If that member or person chooses to go through all those checklists and passes all those different things at their own expense, then the final determination would be by the sheriff or police chief of which the MOU resides with that local school system,” Williams said.

He said these guidelines are far more rigid than those of the bill passed in 2015 that allowed concealed carry for faculty on higher education campuses. He said some three percent of higher education campuses in the state have someone carrying, and overall crime has been reduced, according to a TBI crime report.

“Particularly in those schools across the state where an SRO is either not available, even though we have provided the resources from the state to provide an SRO in every school,” Williams said.

Williams said he would prefer that at least 25 percent of the shooter training be hands-on, but that is not necessarily required in the bill.

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