Louisiana lawmakers spurn idea to arm teachers for safety
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana teachers won’t be allowed to carry guns at schools, lawmakers decided Wednesday as they rejected a proposal opposed by law enforcement, educators and the governor.
After about two hours of debate on how best to protect schoolchildren in the wake of deadly school shootings, the House criminal justice committee killed the bill by a vote of 9-7.
Rep. Raymond Garofalo, the Chalmette Republican who sponsored the bill, said that laws barring guns on school grounds invite attacks. But if teachers who have concealed carry permits and have gone through active shooter training were allowed to bring guns to school, shooters would stay away, he said.
“We have gun-free zones, and it’s basically a welcome mat for criminals and crazies,” he told the panel of lawmakers. “To me, this is all about taking up that welcome mat that says ‘hey, come here and slaughter our students like sheep,’ which we’ve had up for a long time.”
Opponents said the policy is bound to result in unintended shootings and would create confusion in the event of a school shooting. They also said teachers didn’t become educators to police schools.
“When I think about my granddaughter, and my grandchildren, who are attending school, and I think about their teacher has a gun in one hand and has a book in the other hand, we’re turning that school into the wild, wild West,” said Rep. Barbara Norton, a Shreveport Democrat.
Garofalo said Louisiana State Police opposed his bill. The 20,000-member Louisiana Association of Educators also was opposed; its president, Deborah Meaux, called the bill a “knee-jerk” reaction to the problem of mass shootings at schools.
Separately, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards has said he doesn’t like the idea of arming teachers and instead favors having more trained officers in schools.
State lawmakers have filed roughly two dozen bills involving guns this year, most of which stem from the massacre at a Florida high school in February where 17 people were killed by a former student.
Several Republicans have proposed measures adding more firearms on school grounds, though legislators have so far been hesitant to take that step. Last week, a Senate committee voted down a proposal to let armed civilians act as school security guards but approved a bill allowing for bulletproof backpacks at schools.
House Bill 271: http://www.legis.la.gov