Schools react to bill that would lessen the requirements for arming teachers

Schools react to bill that would lessen the requirements for arming teachers

LAWTON, OK (TNN) - Local superintendents are concerned about a bill that would lessen the training required for teachers to be armed in the classroom.

Right now, school employees are required to go through 240 hours of training, the same as police officers or armed security guards.

If this bill becomes law, that number of hours would drop to just 8.

In 2015, the Oklahoma Legislature voted to allow firearms at school, but under local control.

House Bill 2336 would still allow local control, but Elgin’s superintendent said the huge training requirement has kept schools from choosing to arm their teachers.

“The qualification is so stringent, that no ones doing it. The other argument to that is it’s such a crucial, vital area, carrying a firearm around children is that the bar needs to be very high," said Fletcher superintendent Nate Meraz.

At Fletcher, the superintendent said he's worried that if this passes, teachers will now be tasked with being a life saver, on top of dealing with students in class.

“If you concentrate 99 percent of your time teaching class, you shouldn’t be thinking about that gun, and so if you don’ think about it all the time, you probably aren’t going to be good at it," said Fletcher superintendent Shane Gilbreath.

Meraz is also concerned with teachers having that responsibility. He says he wants the person that's designated to protect students and use a weapon, if needed, make that their main focus.

“Your primary thought process better be how can I get Johnny to understand this math problem, and second is, oh I have this gun on my hip. It’s probably never a good idea to have the fact that you have a gun on your hip as a secondary thought process,” said Meraz.

Meraz’s said his preferred solution is something Elgin already has, police officers on campus.

For Fletcher, Gilbreath said having those officers on campus is a luxury they can’t afford.

“A school our size, we don’t have the funds to employ someone full time to be up here, but if it was split between two or three small schools that are close, that would be a good compromise,” said Gilbreath.

Gilbreath said that above all else, it’s the risk of an accident that scares him the most about having guns in the classroom.

“People get shot on accident everyday and they aren’t trying to do anything, so anything can happen just carrying a gun," said Gilbreath.

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