As schools have been sites of recent tragedies when it comes to gun violence, policymakers are wondering what could mitigate potential violent threats against school-aged children and school staff. One answer, in Indiana, is to fund the arming of teachers.
WISH reported that the Indiana House of Representatives passed a bill that proposed the funding of a state program to arm K-12 teachers who volunteer to do so. It is not as if the Hoosier State will forcibly arm teachers against their will and it is not the first time that an idea like this has been proposed in Indiana. WISH noted that the Shelby Eastern School District “has a program allowing teachers and staff to be armed” that is paid through a grant from the Department of Homeland Security.
The bill, House Bill 1177, will go to the Senate for committee hearings and the typical legislative process before it can be brought to the Senate floor for a vote.
The funding for the program will come from school security funds and requires voluntary participation. The volunteers will go through a psychological evaluation and firearms training.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jim Lucas, said, “What we’ve seen in these incidents, time and time again is when the shooter comes in and starts shooting, when seconds count, the police are minutes away.” Luca represents a district in Seymour, Indiana, which is located between Indianapolis, Indiana, and Louisville, Kentucky.
Lucas added, “We designed this class that starts with firearms safety, weapon retention, and it goes quite extensively into shooter situations, scenarios range time.”
Lucas’s bill is not without critics. House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta called it a “haphazard policy” and “another sloppy solution that will only endanger more lives.” GiaQuinta blamed both the state GOP and “gun lobby” for putting more lives in danger.
Meanwhile, the state’s largest teachers’ union said it has a neutral position on the bill, but it did oppose “making the training mandatory for teachers,” as WISH noted. The Indiana State Teachers Association, through a spokesperson, said, “We do support the language in the bill that seeks to protect educators who are being asked to participate in active shooter trainings that include being shot with projectiles. The bill would require written warning and consent. This is an issue that occurred to several of our members, and we have been asking for this language for a few years now.”