Lawmakers in South Dakota have passed a bill that would allow school districts to arm staff and teachers with guns to make their schools safer.
State Senators last week voted 21-14 to pass the measure, despite large-scale opposition from school administrators and personnel, who are largely opposed to bringing weapons into their schools.
Supporters of the bill claim that arming teachers could prevent tragedies like the Dec. 14 massacre in Newtown, Conn. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Craig Tieszen, R-Rapid City, said that he would leave the decision to arm teachers up to individual school districts, but that he strongly recommends it.
Supporters of the bill also argue that teachers would only become armed after partaking in a “School Sentinel program” that would provide them with firearms training by law enforcement officers. No teachers would be forced to take part in the program and could choose to remain unarmed.
Opponents of the bill, including Rep. Troy Heinert, D-Mission, said say that should not be employed to act as law enforcement officers and that arming them would make him uncomfortable about sending his child to kindergarten.
The South Dakota Education Association claims that guns should only be provided to trained professionals and that no training program could properly instruct a teacher how to respond to a situation like the massacre in Newtown, Conn.