The Bill Still Arms Teachers and Brings Guns Into Classrooms
State Senator Gary Farmer today released the following statement with the intent of clearing up a misunderstanding about the “school guardian” provision of Senate Bill 7026:
My primary concern with SB 7026, as shared by many of my Democratic colleagues, is a provision that permits teachers to carry guns in classrooms. In order to assuage this issue the Senate Republicans proposed an amendment that appeared to exclude teachers from the program. In reality however, this restriction is nothing more than window dressing. Instead of removing guns from classrooms, this amendment simply provides an illusionary limitation on the class of teachers who may carry, and provides for numerous exceptions to that rule.
The amendment language states that the limitation only applies to teachers that “exclusively perform classroom duties.” This means that if a teacher performs any additional service on behalf of the school he/she will be allowed to carry a gun into a classroom. If a teacher is also a coach, or the moderator of a club, as is often the case, they would be allowed to carry a firearm at a school.
The exclusion is also narrowly tailored in a manner that fails to cover many individuals that will be interacting with students in classrooms every day. The exemption only covers 1 out of 5 categories of instructional personnel at our schools. Under the current bill language school counselors, psychologists, librarians, cafeteria workers, learning specialists, adjunct educators, and physical education teachers will all be allowed to carry guns at our children’s schools.
Many reports from both national and local media outlets represent the Senate version of SB 7026 as stripped of the controversial classroom carry provisions. This is simply not the case. Those who believe the Senate adequately addressed this point in yesterday’s amendment are mistaken.
While I support some of the better features of this bill, such as restrictions on firearm purchases for those under the age of 21, the ban on bump stocks, additional mental health funding, and school hardening, I will be unable to support this legislation as long as it allows civilians to be armed in the presence of our children. If these provisions remain in the final version of the bill, I urge the Governor to exercise his veto authority, and to call a special session to address this issue in a more responsible manner. I would be happy to return to the Capitol this summer if it means bringing forward a plan that will both keep our children safe by preventing more guns from entering our schools, while addressing the long overdue issue of gun safety.