PHOENIX – School teachers who undergo special training would be allowed to have a gun in a locked area of a school, including their classroom, if a bill being pushed by a Republican lawmaker and Attorney General Tom Horne becomes law in Arizona.
Rep. David Stevens of Sierra Vista says his bill is voluntary for school districts and allows the principal to designate any employee to receive weapons training. That includes teachers, principals or even school maintenance staff.
Horne said Monday district employees would go through a free 24-hour training course run by his investigators.
"Ideally it would be a military veteran or a retired police officer," said Attorney General Tom Horne. "If we would just train one person in the school, so that we would be safe from accidents, that would be kind of the golden mean between doing nothing, which we would regret, and doing something that would make us prone to accidents."
The gun would be kept in a secure and secret location and if something were to happen, that trained teacher would be able to respond.
"It would be someplace that the trained person could get to very quickly but it would be locked and secure so that the kids wouldn't get at it," said Horne.
House minority leader Chad Campbell fears that someone could be shot by accident.
"The downside to this far outweighs the upside," said Campbell. "What is going to happen then, and nobody can answer that question, the liability issues alone make this a non-starter."
Campbell and other Democrats are pushing for more school resource officers.
"They have the adequate training. They know the staff, the students, that is what they need to be doing, not giving part time volunteers and teachers weapons on a campus."
The bill is the latest in a series of proposals to tighten school security after a gunman killed 20 Connecticut first-graders and six educators in December.
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