Arizona is advancing legislation that would allow
schoolteachers to arm themselves in class.
The proposal cleared the state Senate this week and now heads
to the state House.
Several other states have introduced measures to let teachers
carry guns. The movement came after the National Rifle
Association called for such legislation in light of the mass
shooting last year in Newtown, Conn., where 20 first-graders
Earlier this month, South Dakota became the first state since
the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre to pass a law that
specifically allows teachers and school employees to carry
weapons on campus. Measures in other states have stalled.
In Arizona, SB 1325 would give school boards the ability to
allow any employee to bear a concealed handgun, pistol or
revolver on campus at rural schools. There are some caveats,
however. The school would have to have fewer than 600
students, be more than 20 miles and 30 minutes away from the
closest law enforcement facility and not have a school
Sen. Rich Crandall, a Republican from Mesa, sponsored the
bill, which passed the GOP-dominated Senate on a 17-11 vote
Monday. Crandall did not return a call for comment.
It's unclear whether Gov. Jan. Brewer, also a Republican,
will support the bill. It's been her practice to wait till
legislation passes both houses of the Legislature before she
indicates whether she'll sign or veto it.
State Senate Minority Leader Leah Landrum Taylor, a Democrat
from Phoenix, called the measure irresponsible.
"I think it's a knee-jerk reaction to something, that could
get us in a lot of trouble - that could further endanger the
lives of children - because we don't know the level of
responsibility or training that individual would have,"
Taylor said of the teachers and staff carrying handguns. "For
instance, if they misplace it or, God forbid, have to take
out the gun and use it for any reason, what is the tactical
training? Will they accidentally kill a child in the
Taylor advocated arming trained school resource officers
instead of teachers and other staff.
The bill does set a list of conditions for arming a school
The person would need to possess a valid fingerprint
clearance card, have a valid permit to own a gun and attend
annual firearm training approved by the Arizona Peace Officer
Standards and Training Board. The firearm would need to
remain concealed on the employee or stored in a gun locker
maintained by the school.
In addition, the school board would have to consider the
employee's temperament, personality and - if applicable -
reactions to previous crises, before giving that person
clearance to carry a gun on campus.
Still, Taylor questioned whether a school board would be
qualified to make such a determination.
"We're putting a school board in a precarious situation,"