BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said he doesn’t like the idea of arming teachers in the wake of a deadly school shooting in Florida, taking his first public stance Thursday on one of the more contentious issues moving through the Legislature.
The Democratic governor said he instead favors having more trained officers in schools and added that he is working with stakeholders to come up with a comprehensive safety program.
“I, for one, do not think it’s a good idea to have concealed carry with teachers,” Edwards told reporters. “I think we need to focus on other school safety measures, principally around school resource officers, making sure that we have an adequate number of those in each school.”
Roughly two dozen bills involving guns have been filed so far this year, most stemming from the massacre last month at a Florida high school where 17 people were killed by a former student.
Several Republicans have proposed measures to allow concealed handguns at schools and the arming of teachers or other school officials. Democrats, meanwhile, are pushing bans on assault weapons and other firearm restrictions.
Edwards’ comments came in a wide-ranging press conference after lawmakers wrapped up their second week of the regular legislative session. On other issues, the governor said he:
—Will resist any proposals to scale back the criminal justice overhaul he championed and saw passed by lawmakers last year. Edwards said he’d consider “some modifications” to the package of measures approved in 2017, but “we’re not going to support any wholesale changes and rollbacks to what we were able to accomplish last year.”
—Would sign a bill pending in the Senate that would create a referendum process for voters in Edwards’ home of Tangipahoa Parish to decide if they want to move a riverboat casino from Bossier City to a shallow river there. Pressed about whether he personally supports the move, Edwards replied: “If the election is called, I will vote for it.”
—Isn’t proposing to add new projects to the annual construction budget, because of the state’s tight finances. He said he’d support using some of a state surplus to pay for small projects without needing to borrow money.
—Prefers creating a study group to recommend the approach for holding a state constitutional convention, rather than backing one of the many proposals in the Legislature that set specific terms for a convention.