The Latest: Bill to let more teachers have guns clears panel
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Latest on gun legislation in the Tennessee General Assembly (all times local):
A bill that would expand the number of teachers allowed to carry guns in Tennessee schools has cleared its first legislative hurdle.
A House subcommittee voted Wednesday for legislation that would let all school districts decide whether to let teachers undergo training by certified private instructors to carry guns in schools, with one armed teacher per 75 students.
Republican subcommittee chairman Rep. Mike Carter of Ooltewah said he would prefer hiring more school resource officers and questioned why there wasn’t more funding for them. He said it would cost about $40 million to put a school resource officer in every school.
Tennessee Sheriffs Association Executive Director Terry Ashe said there are 910 school resource officers statewide, representing only 40 percent coverage, with most uncovered schools being elementary schools.
Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration voiced opposition to the bill.
A bipartisan bill would let Tennessee school districts hire off-duty law enforcement officers to bolster existing school security.
Republican Rep. Micah Van Huss of Jonesborough and Democratic Rep. Antonio Parkinson of Memphis announced the legislation Wednesday.
Under it, participating districts would get a list of interested officers. Officers would have to carry a loaded handgun. Districts would choose whether officers would wear uniforms and whether they have rifles.
Up to two officers would be offered per school. The program adds to existing school resource officers.
Using civil asset forfeiture money, the state would pay officers $50 per school day and $50 for afterschool events. Any additional money would come from state reserves.
Republican Senate sponsor Sen. Mark Green of Clarksville called it an emergency measure. It would sunset in 2022.