(AP) — A proposal to require a gun-carrying employee in all of
Indiana's public and charter schools seemed on the verge of being
dropped by legislators Monday.
chairman of the House committee currently considering the bill said he
expected changes would be made before it advances, while the bill's main
House sponsor signaled he wouldn't fight to keep the mandate, which was
added last week.
House Ways and Means Committee heard brief testimony Monday and faced a
Tuesday deadline to advance the bill to the full House. If the measure
goes unchanged, Indiana would become the first state in the country to
require armed school employees.
of the measure say that would lessen the vulnerability of schools to
violent attacks such as the December elementary school shooting in
Newtown, Conn., in which 20 students and six teachers died. But since
the mandate was added, Republican Gov. Mike Pence, Democratic state
schools superintendent Glenda Ritz and leaders of Indiana schools and
teachers' organizations have come out against it.
Ways and Means Chairman Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, said Monday
afternoon he wasn't exactly sure what changes would be made to the bill,
which also aims to start a state grant program to help school districts
buy safety equipment and hire police officers who've undergone extra
think there has been a strong sense that mandate isn't very
popular," Brown said.
issue is whether people not trained as police officers — such as
teachers or principals — should have the responsibility of carrying a
loaded gun, as well as questions about the potential financial cost of
ensuring that person is present during all regular school hours.
law currently allows school districts to authorize people other than
police officers to have guns on school property, although several
officials have said they don't know of any district that has done it.
bill's main House sponsor, Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel, didn't propose the
armed employees requirement in the House Education Committee and didn't
defend it during an interview Monday.
not necessarily comfortable with the requirement," Torr said.
"I think it might be better to leave that decision with local
National Rifle Association-sponsored study released last week
recommended schools across the nation each train and arm at least one
staff member. Lawmakers in more than 20 states are considering proposals
to allow armed school employees, but no states currently require it,
according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Woody Burton, R-Whiteland, voted in favor of the mandate last week and
said Monday he still believes it's a good idea.
have to think outside the box. This is not just anybody carrying a gun,
this is somebody properly trained," Burton said. "It's a
symbol of protection for the school."
message seeking comment was left Monday for a National Rifle Association
of the NAACP, an Indianapolis ministers group and other spoke against
the mandate during Monday's House committee hearing. No one testified in
favor of it.
the mandate would be an "embarrassment" for Indiana, said Peg
Paulson of Carmel, a steering committee member for the Indianapolis
chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. The group formed
after the Connecticut school shooting.
do not believe that more guns make us more safe," Paulson said.
"If that were the case, then the United States would be the safest
country on earth."