Indiana Lawmakers Approve Bill to Fund Voluntary Firearm Training for Teachers
Firearms Training for Teachers
In the aftermath of a school shooting in Nashville that left six dead, the push for armed teachers has been reignited, with state legislatures all over the country proposing laws to make schools safer. Indiana is no exception.
On Tuesday, the Indiana State Senate passed a bill by a vote of 42-8 that would allow funding for teachers to receive voluntary firearm safety training.
HB 1177, which passed in the House last February, proposes that school districts may apply for state funding to cover 40 hours of specialized training on topics like the safe handling of firearms, general care, and basic marksmanship. The bill also allows funding for counseling of teachers, school staff, and students in the case of a school shooting.
Consequently, Indiana state law already allows school districts to permit teachers to be armed. However, the law does not enforce any mandatory training.
Indiana's History of School Shootings
Fortunately, Indiana schools have seen very few shootings. Since 1881, there have been eight shootings recorded, with only two of them resulting in deaths. The most recent shooting happened in 2011 when a 17-year-old student shot a 16-year-old student in Gary.
According to the K-12 School Shooting Database, Indiana has had a total of 31 incidents since 1970 involving a firearm on a school campus, ranking 16th overall. Incidents include "any incident on school property where a gun was brandished or discharged or a bullet hit school property and at least one person was killed or injured, regardless of whether school was in session."
Compared to other states in the tristate, Indiana ranks below Tennessee (10th) and Illinois (3rd). Kentucky ranks 31st.
Will Armed Teachers Really Make Schools Safer?
With very little data to support whether or not arming teachers can actually keep schools safe, it is hard to say. The possibility of arming teachers raises many concerns among school professionals and parents. According to a survey by PDK International, an educator organization, parents and teachers prefer armed law enforcement, metal detectors, and mental health screenings over armed teachers.
As an educator who has done lockdown drills in the past, I can say a teacher's first priority is keeping children safe. It is our priority every minute of each day that we are with your children, and even more so in dangerous situations like an active shooter. When a teacher is in lockdown with a room full of children, she is most concerned with comforting them in a scary moment in order to keep them calm and quiet. They have so much on their plates in situations like this that adding a gun into the mix feels risky.
From increased liability in schools, being unmatched against widely used assault weapons, and making teachers a bigger target to shooters, arming educators comes with many drawbacks and new dangers. As in most cases, prevention is key.
To make your thoughts heard on HB 1177, contact Govenor Holcomb's Office:
Mail: Office of the Governor
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204-2797
E-mail: Governor: Ask Eric (in.gov)
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