Governor Bill Haslam again voiced misgivings this week about a proposal to arm some teachers in case of a school shooting like the incident in Connecticut. Gov. Haslam stopped short of condemning the idea altogether.
At least one bill is already on file to let teachers carry guns, and other lawmakers have floated similar ideas. Haslam says he’s heard from sheriffs who worry about it. Haslam would not fully rule out arming teachers, saying he’d wait to see specific legislation.
A bill in the house proposes a plan to allow for teachers, principals and school personnel to go armed. As introduced (HB 0006), allows K-12 school personnel to possess a firearm on school property if the person has a handgun carry permit, is authorized by the school superintendent, has had 40 hours of basic school policing training and uses frangible bullets. A frangible bullet is one that is designed to disintegrate into tiny particles upon impact to minimize their penetration.
The bill is being proposed by State Representative Eric Watson (R) of Cleveland, Tennessee.
Bill Summary :
Under present law, it is generally a Class E felony for a person to possess or carry a weapon, including a firearm, with the intent to go armed on school property. Also, under present law, it is generally a Class B misdemeanor for a person to possess or carry a firearm on school property, except that a nonstudent adult may possess a firearm, if the firearm is contained within a private vehicle operated by the adult and is not handled by the adult, or by any other person acting with the expressed or implied consent of the adult, while the vehicle is on school property. It is not an offense to possess a weapon, including a firearm, on school property if the weapon is used solely for instructional or school-sanctioned ceremonial purposes.
Under present law, the following persons are not prohibited from carrying or possessing weapons on school property when in discharge of their official duties:
(1) Member of the military when acting under orders requiring them to carry weapons;
(2) Civil officers of the United States;
(3) Officers and soldiers of the militia and the national guard when called into actual service;
(4) Law enforcement officers;
(5) Any pupils who are members of the reserve officers training corps or pupils enrolled in a course of instruction or members of a club or team, and who are required to carry arms or weapons in the discharge of their official class or team duties;
(6) Any private police employed by the administration or board of trustees of any public or private institution of higher education; and
(7) Registered security guards.
This bill adds public school faculty and staff to the list of persons who are not prohibited from carrying or possessing weapons on school property, provided, that the faculty or staff member:
(1) Possesses a handgun carry permit;
(2) Has the written permission of the director of schools to carry;
(3) Has successfully completed a 40-hour course in basic school policing training, including training in crisis management and hostile situations, no more than (12) months prior to seeking authorization of the director of schools to carry. All such training shall be approved by each school district and the cost of the training, firearm and ammunition shall be at the expense of the person seeking authorization and not the school district; and
(4) Uses only ammunition that is specifically designed for use in a confined space, as approved by the POST commission.
This bill extends immunity from civil liability to any LEA in which the director of schools authorizes a faculty or staff member to possess or carry a firearm for damages, injuries, or death resulting from or arising out of a faculty or staff member's actions involving a firearm carried or possessed on school property unless the board of education or superintendent knew of or intentionally solicited or procured the faculty or staff member's actions involving a firearm that resulted in the harm.
This bill (as proposed if passed) will take effect on July 1, 2013, and apply to school year 2013-2014 and each school year thereafter.
The proposed bill amends TCA Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13 and Title 49, Chapter 6.