WABE News
7:00 am
Mon February 18, 2013

Bill to Arm Teachers Moves through Georgia Legislature

The Georgia House of Representatives Rules Committee will consider a bill this week that would let school systems arm their staff members. House Bill 35 allows school systems to designate administrators, teachers, or other staff members to carry concealed weapons.

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Rep. Paul Battles (R)-Cartersville wrote the bill in the wake of the Newtown school shooting, but he knows it is controversial and expects opposition from the anti-gun lobby.

“From the very beginning, I’ve said this is a school security piece of legislation,” said Battles. “It’s not about guns. It’s about securing our schools.”  

No school system would be required to arm its employees, and much of the decision-making about who would be armed, what weapons would be used, and what training would be required would be left up to each local school board.

Some school systems are watching the bill as it moves through the legislature. That includes Cherokee County, where Mark Kissel is the school district’s Chief of Police. He’s also President of the Georgia Association of Secondary School Law Enforcement Executives (GASSLEE).

Kissel says GASSLEE is taking a position against arming school employees. “You’re placing those individuals in a position of having to make a determination as to whether they confront and potentially shoot a student who is armed with a handgun or other weapon,” said Kissel. “And we think that is bad business. Educators are there to educate. Law enforcement is there to protect and serve.”

The bill passed out of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee last week. And Rep. Battles says that was the biggest hurdle, adding, “I’m sure we’ll have a lively debate on the floor, but I feel like it has great momentum.”

Rep. Battles expects the bill to make it to the House floor by mid-week.