Local control good policy for firearms training for teachers

Should schools allow teachers or other personnel to carry firearms in order to protect students? That’s a question that generates a lot of opinions, and one that has come up during this session of the Indiana General Assembly.

It’s a question asked and debated because of legislation that is making its way through the Statehouse. House Bill 1253, authored by state Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, would provide state funding for teachers or school staff to receive certified handgun training. It’s intended as a way for school districts to enhance the safety of their school.

HB 1253 passed its chamber of origin by a 72-25 vote and awaits action in the Senate.

The bill would allow personnel at public, private and charter schools who are approved by their school districts or governing bodies, and complete a psychological test, to apply for funding to cover the cost of the extensive training, which includes about 40 hours of specialized instruction that is based on what law enforcement recruits receive.

That training would include firearms safety, basic marksmanship, drills to replicate high-stress situations and emergency medical instruction.

Is the proposed legislation a good thing? Is allowing armed teachers in the classroom a good thing?

Those are questions that generate varying opinions, depending on one’s perspective.

What is to be liked about this bill, particularly if it passes and becomes law, is that school districts retain local control. Just as current state law allows, school districts can determine their own policies regarding handguns on campus. Some already permit trained teachers or personnel to carry firearms on campus. The primary difference with the bill is the funding and training involved.

Each school district and the community where it is located is different from the hundreds of others statewide in terms of culture, values, wants and needs. So their opinions about HB 1253 are likely to vary, too.

Some may consider the opportunity to secure funding and firearms training for teachers or other personnel to be a great benefit. Others may find it abhorrent. Thus, the districts can act accordingly to what they consider their best interests.

Locally, the Bartholomew Consolidated and Flat Rock-Hawcreek school corporations said they would not pursue funding for such training, instead focusing on school resource officers and other measures for enhanced security. That best fits their wants and needs.

Whether one thinks training teachers to use firearms is a good thing or not, leaving such a decision to local school districts is a good thing.