RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Supporters of a measure to allow North Carolina public school teachers to carry handguns on campus said Tuesday that arming school personnel could save student and faculty lives when a shooter evades conventional security and police officers.

Chief sponsors of the "School Self-Defense Act" promoted it at a Legislative Building news conference while acknowledging fellow House GOP leaders aren't interested in giving it a hearing.

"It's an election year and they're afraid of controversy," said a sponsor, Rep. Larry Pittman of Concord. The Republican-controlled legislature has instead approved provisions that focus on building safety upgrades, school resource officer training and mental health funding and programs.

Republicans have also declined to hear bills and amendments filed by Democrats that would place new restrictions on gun sales or possession. This year's focus on gun and school safety legislation is in response to recent school shootings in Parkland, Florida, and Santa Fe, Texas.

Pittman's measure would designate "volunteer school faculty guardians" — teachers or staff members — who have concealed weapons permits and agree to get 16 hours of specialized training to be armed in school. The gun would have to be concealed at all times except when responding to violence or an imminent threat of violence.

School districts could decide against allowing armed teachers. Still, Pittman and gun-rights activists say the authority isn't unusual. At least nine states allow non-security school personnel to carry weapons, according to the Education Commission of the States. Bill sponsor wants the public to contact legislators and urge that the bill be considered this year.

"If you're that teacher faced with a shooter coming into your room then the question is 'Is the shooter going to die, or am I going to die or are these kids going to die?'" Pittman said. "And if I were that teacher I'd want to be able to say, 'I'm going to shoot him.'"

Democrats have said gun restrictions will become an issue in the November legislative elections if their gun control bills aren't heard.

Grass Roots North Carolina President Paul Valone, who supports the bill, agreed that gun rights should be considered by voters this fall.

"The choice will be to protect school children while protecting individual liberties or to pass gun control that purports to protect children but will actually do nothing for school safety and everything to restrict your individual freedoms," Valone said.