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LA senator proposes amendment allowing teachers to be armed in the classroom

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BATON ROUGE - One state lawmaker now wants to arm teachers in the classroom after the latest string of violence across the country.

State Senator Eddie Lambert (R-Gonzales), says the idea came to him just yesterday as the latest mass shooting in Tulsa was happening.

"We're going to have to do something to protect our children," Lambert said. "We've got to do something to keep schools safe."

He raised the idea on Wednesday, during a debate on House Bill 37, which would have loosened concealed carry laws in Louisiana.

Lambert's amendment would give teachers the option to get trained to carry a gun on campus. He says that in a situation where life and death can be decided in seconds, this is the best option, especially in smaller school districts.

"A lot of schools don't have the money to do school resource officers. This gives them the option to put a highly trained person, in the schools," Lambert said.

Parents had mixed reactions to the idea. Sean Branch wasn't against it but was far from sold on the idea. He says proper training would be key.

"I think that there should be more security officers at school," Branch said. "It's important for our kids to feel protected, and for the parents to know their children are protected, as well as knowing the teachers are protective."

Not everyone is sold. The Louisiana Federation of Teachers says it's against the idea entirely.

"There was a study, and it said in the last two decades, 9 out of 10 students, were actually enrolled or had been enrolled where they came in and did the shooting," said LFT Legislative and Political Director Cynthia Posey. "Is it really fair to ask our teachers to shoot someone that they taught?" 

Lambert says it's worth the debate.

"It's just a common-sense approach to a situation like we had in Texas," Lambert said. "It was 40 minutes before the police actually arrived." 

Lambert says teachers would need 400 hours of training and a school officer certificate. Each school district would decide if it wants to let teachers be armed. The bill heads to the Senate floor next.

We asked Livingston, East Baton Rouge, Ascension Parish schools for comment, but they declined.

The full statement from LFT:

"Last night, the Senate Committee on Revenue and Fiscal Affairs amended House Bill 37 by Representative McCormick. These amendments would allow school districts to appoint teachers and school administrators to become voluntary “school protection officers” who are authorized to carry a concealed firearm in school. This new law would put all of the responsibility and liability directly onto our teachers. Teachers would be expected to provide their own gun, obtain their own concealed carry firearm permit, complete a minimum of 400 hours of training on their own personal time, and carry all the responsibility and liability if anything goes wrong.

Louisiana’s teachers are already overworked and underpaid; constantly taking on additional responsibilities and duties without receiving the respect and appreciation they deserve. We can not continue to expect teachers to fix all of society’s problems.

An analysis by the National Institute of Justice found that in the six mass school shootings and 39 attempted mass school shootings between 1999 and 2019, more than nine in 10 shooters were current or former students at the school. It is not fair to ask educators in a moment of extreme duress to switch from the role of an education professional to a law enforcement officer. It is not fair to ask an educator to possibly kill a child they have taught.

Teachers are there to teach. To help children grow and reach their academic potential. Like their students, they have the right to expect that their schools will be safe. They have the right to expect that public officials and security officers will keep them safe.

We need thoughtful and meaningful action to keep our schools and surrounding communities safe. It’s time for our leaders to adopt a multifaceted approach that provides school communities with the tools they need to intervene and prevent school-based gun violence, not a law hastily thrown together in the last days of the legislative session. Our teachers and students deserve better."

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