According to reports from The Associated Press, the measures are among proposals state lawmakers are considering this legislative session in the wake of last month’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Several Tennessee lawmakers have drafted legislation that would encourage school districts to place at least one armed police officer in every school and would allow teachers who have undergone special training to bring their personal handguns into schools.
However, TEA president Gera Summerford said teachers should be focused on teaching and not have to worry about trying to stop an intruder.
The TEA’s position is counter to the smaller Professional Educators of Tennessee that supports a bill filed by State Rep. Eric Watson, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
PET Executive Director J.C. Bowman spoke in support of Watson’s legislation Monday afternoon during a press conference at Bradley Central High School.
“Rep. Watson has been very helpful, working with us to alleviate some of our concerns and obviously, liability for teachers is one of the issues we expect to come up, and we expect to address those issues with him,” he said.
Bowman said the teachers he has spoken to are evenly split over arming teachers.
“But the fact that this leaves it in the hands of the local education association, we feel that’s the best policy,” he said. “It doesn’t prohibit it, nor does it require it, therefore, we feel like this is a piece of legislation we can work with.
“But, there are a lot of things that are going to have to happen, because we didn’t get in this situation overnight and we won’t resolve it overnight,” Bowman added, “We feel like this is a positive step forward and we look forward to working with Rep. Watson on the final outcome of the bill.”