In the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre, state legislatures across the nation are debating how best to protect children against the horror that took place at Sandy Hook elementary school.
In Tennessee, Sen. Frank Niceley is introducing a bill today that would require an armed presence in every public school – either a “school resource officer,” or, if local schools can’t afford an SRO, a teacher or staff member who has gone through the same training.
The idea of an educator carrying a weapon is a controversial one. Tennessee state Rep. Darren Jernigan says it goes against the very essence of what a teacher is.
“They have a mentality of nurturing students, a mentality of educating students, but not necessarily of defending them with arms,” Jernigan told Fox News. “If they wanted to go into law enforcement, I think they would have.”
When Niceley first floated the idea of arming teachers, it was met with significant opposition. The Tennessee Education Association – the state’s largest teacher’s group – was expected to take a position against the bill. But in a statement Wednesday, the TEA said it did not oppose arming teachers as long as no teacher is “forced to carry a gun” and “goes through SRO training.”