Tennessee Governor Signs Armed Teacher Bill

AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, Pool

I've been baffled by the number of teachers who came out against the bill in Tennessee that sought to allow some teachers to be armed. After all, the bill requires school board permission and an extensive training course before you can take a gun into a classroom lawfully, so it's not like every teacher is going to start "packing heat" or anything.


But teachers don't seem to trust either themselves, their colleagues, or both very far. They've been very vocal in their opposition--and I can't help but hope their lack of trust in one another comes up the next time they're demanding a pay raise.

They didn't want the bill to become law, yet thanks to the stroke of Gov. Bill Lee's pen, they get to start learning how to deal with their disappointment.

Gov. Bill Lee signed into law Friday a controversial bill to allow school teachers and staff to carry guns in school.

The law goes into immediate effect.

House and Senate Republicans passed the bill, HB 1202/SB 1321, in the final weeks of the legislative session over the protests of school shooting survivors, teachers and gun-reform advocates.

Parents and most school staff will not be told who in the school has a weapon or where it might be stored. There are no safe storage requirements in the bill, and House Republicans in late April voted down a Democratic effort to codify them in the bill.

Probably because what Democrats would consider "safe storage" would mean they couldn't be accessed in case of an emergency.


Of course, that's not the only issue Tennessee Democrats have with the bill.

Armed teachers and staff will be required to undergo 40 hours of training, which Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, at one point likened to less hours than children are sent to summer camp. Approved carriers will be allowed to carry handguns in their classrooms and in most campus situations without informing parents and most of their colleagues they're armed. The legislation also requires criminal and mental health background checks.

Ah, yes, summer camp. If it's a residential summer camp for a given week, tcohen they spend more time than 40 hours there, of course, but Yarbro is trying to make it look like teachers are getting next to no training at all.

Yet police officers undergo 71 hours of firearm training, on average, and they face a plethora of challenges that teachers aren't likely to face. After all, teachers aren't going to have to learn how to shoot during a traffic stop gone bad or how to deal with a bank robber.

In reality, 40 hours is probably overkill, but if it makes some people feel a little better, so be it.


Yet Yarbro's comment makes it clear that it would never be enough. These teachers will be undergoing training time focused on scenarios they'd face in the a school well in excess of what law enrocement would for the same scenarios, yet he's belittling the time. Instead, he'd rather have cops go in who don't know the kids, don't know the school as well, and with potentially less training for these specific scenarios.

Yarbro, however, like the anti-gun teachers who can't seem to stop talking, need to learn to deal with disappointment. The bill is now law. 

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