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Georgia’s Kemp: School safety ‘has nothing to do’ with guns

September 19, 2018

FILE - This combination of May 20, 2018, file photos shows Georgia gubernatorial candidates Stacey Abrams, left, and Brian Kemp in Atlanta. Kemp has unveiled a $90 million proposal for school security focused on mental health and local control. But absent from his plan was any mention of the topic that has dominated the national conversation around school safety: guns. Abrams’ campaign said that gun safety measures are essential to keeping Georgia’s schoolchildren safe. (AP Photos/John Amis, File)

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia’s Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp has unveiled a $90 million proposal for school security focused on mental health and local control. But absent from his plan was any mention of the topic that has dominated the national conversation around school safety: guns.

“This is a school safety proposal. This has nothing to do with Second Amendment protections or gun control ideas that my opponent might have,” Kemp said, referring to Democrat Stacey Abrams.

The plan includes funding for a support counselor program in high schools to assist students dealing with issues such as mental health problems, opioid abuse, bullying and violence in the home.

The proposal also calls for a one-time $30,000 infusion for each of Georgia’s 2,292 public schools that local officials can use for “school security purposes” specific to their schools. Kemp also wants to create a new school safety division within the Georgia Department of Education using existing funds from the department.

But Abrams’ campaign said that gun safety measures are essential to keeping Georgia’s schoolchildren safe.

“Commonsense gun safety measures, including repealing campus carry, are essential to ensuring our schools are safe,” said Abrams’ spokeswoman Priyanka Mantha.

Abrams’ own public education plan says she’ll seek “safe schools through gun safety policies” as well as a focus on school climate and supporting school mental health professionals and school resource officers. Her proposal also calls for providing resources for building improvements directed by local school districts through tax revenue.

Abrams’ platform for gun safety measures includes universal background checks, the introduction of a 3-day waiting period and banning assault weapons.

One distinct area of disagreement between the candidates is whether teachers should be armed. School districts in Georgia are currently able to allow teachers to carry guns in the classroom under a law passed in 2012.

Kemp said that he believes that decision should be left up to individual school systems and that arming teachers might not be right for all.

But Abrams has said that arming teachers is dangerous and distracts them from educating.

“We arm our teachers with resources, not with .45s,” Abrams said at the state Democratic convention in August.

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