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Teachers could carry concealed guns under red state’s bill

Chairs in a classroom. (MChe Lee/Unsplash)
April 12, 2024

The Tennessee State Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would allow public school teachers and faculty staff members to carry concealed firearms if they pass background checks and complete training requirements. The bill comes after Tennessee suffered a tragic mass shooting incident at a school last year.

According to Fox News, the Tennessee State Senate voted 26-5 to pass Senate Bill 1325 on Tuesday. A summary of the bill explains that the legislation “authorizes a faculty or staff member of a school to carry a concealed handgun on school grounds subject to certain conditions, including obtaining an enhanced handgun carry permit and completing annual training.”

The bill would require public school teachers and staff members to obtain written authorization from local law enforcement officials and the school’s principal, have a permit to carry a handgun, and complete 40 hours of annual “training specific to school policing,” including “hands-on instruction with the authorizing law enforcement.”

Teachers and other public school staff members would be required to pass a background check and provide fingerprints and other biometric information. They would also have to be certified by a psychologist or psychiatrist “as being free from any impairment that would … affect the faculty or staff member’s ability to safely possess and carry a concealed handgun on the grounds of a school.”

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According to Fox News, the Tennessee bill would not require teachers to carry weapons or to use them during a shooting incident. The bill would also prevent schools from telling parents or other teachers which employees were authorized to carry guns.

Fox News reported that prior to Tuesday’s vote on Senate Bill 1325, Republican lawmakers suggested that public school teachers and faculty members could provide increased safety during shooting incidents, especially in counties where law enforcement resources are limited.

Republican State Sen. Ken Yager said, “It’s time that we look at the facts of the bill, that we are not trying to shoot a student, but protect a student from an active shooter whose sole purpose is to get into that school and kill people.”

The bill’s passage comes after the deadly Covenant School shooting last March, which led to the deaths of three children and three adults. Senate Bill 1325 will now move on to Tennessee’s House of Representatives for consideration.