Tuscaloosa lawmakers weigh in on arming teachers | News
TUSCALOOSA COUNTY, AL (WBRC)- A state lawmaker plans to introduce legislation that would allow schools to arm certain employees. Representative Kerry Rich of Albertville says he believes the plan would stop violent incidents similar to the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn. two weeks ago.
Rich says his bill would be focused on schools that cannot afford to hire resource officers. So what do lawmakers in west Alabama think about the plan? FOX6 News talked to 3 Republican legislators who represent Tuscaloosa County.
All three agree arming teachers is an issue that should be discussed but none of them think it's a done deal that it could become law.
"Certainly I'm open to a school employee having the right to carry a firearm into the building," Senator Gerald Allen (Cottondale) said.
Senator Allen was the only one of the three who's ready to support arming school personnel.
"It's a growing consensus amongst our citizens here in Tuscaloosa and West Alabama. Let's train our teachers, let's train our administrators to be able to handle a firearm," Allen said.
No bill has been filed on the proposal. Representative Bill Poole of Tuscaloosa sits on the education and budget committees, two groups that would have input on how the measure could be implemented and paid for. He wants to hear from parents and administrators before making a decision.
"We need to talk to parents, we need to hear from principals and superintendents, understand what issues they're facing relative to school security. What they see as the primary concern," Poole said.
Protecting children is a priority and many parents want something done in light of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.
But some like Representative John Merrill of Tuscaloosa aren't sure if arming teachers is the only solution or one aspect of a broader plan to keep kids safe in school.
"To say that each teacher is armed and trained. Each teacher is armed and trained is that the right thing to do. I don't know if that's the right thing to do," Merrill said.
The legislature meets on Feb. 5 but legislators will meet with law enforcement and educators about a month before that to talk about the issue.
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