The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

April 8, 2013

Even in pro-gun states, bid to arm teachers stalls

(Continued)

House Speaker Tim Jones vowed this past week that Missouri's Republican supermajorities would still pass some sort of pro-gun measure this year. But it's unlikely to involve arming teachers.

In Oklahoma, where pro-firearms measures usually get a warm reception from lawmakers, gun-rights advocates faced an uphill battle against educators opposed to any effort to allow guns in schools. A bill letting schools develop policies for arming trained employees died in the Senate Education Committee.

"As a rule, it's very difficult to find educators and administrators that support the idea of putting arms in the schools, for whatever reason," said Rep. Steve Martin, chairman of the Oklahoma House Public Safety Committee.

After opposition from education groups, the North Dakota Senate defeated a bill last month that would have let people with permits bring their weapons into schools. And the New Hampshire House rejected legislation that would have let local school districts seek voter approval for their personnel to carry guns.

"The chances an armed teacher will hit a child are high," Dean Michener, of the New Hampshire School Boards Association, told lawmakers earlier this year.

When NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre called for armed school officers, he warned that gun-free schools "tell every insane killer in America that schools are their safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk." His message carried extra heft, because many lawmakers in the more than two dozen Republican-controlled states are NRA members. The NRA did not respond to request for comment about the state response to its proposal.

In some states, Republican governors have put the damper on legislative efforts to place guns in schools.

Just days after the Newtown shooting, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed legislation letting concealed weapon permit holders — including teachers — carry guns in schools, because there was no provision for local school districts to opt out.

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