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home : latest news : state April 16, 2014

1/28/2014 6:00:00 AM
Supporters renew push for arming Arizona teachers
The Associated Press

PHOENIX - A bill before Arizona lawmakers this session renews a push to allow teachers to arm themselves in the classroom.

Supporters, including Attorney General Tom Horne, say the legislation would protect children and staff in the event of a mass shooting.

"It's a tool in the toolbox to help provide safety in the school system," said Republican Rep. David Stevens, the Sierra Vista lawmaker who is sponsoring the proposal.

But opponents, including Arizona Education Association President Andrew Morrill, would rather have police officers assigned to schools and consider the proposal little more than a ploy to expand gun rights.

"Arming teachers, arming anybody that's not trained law enforcement in a complex environment like that, it's just a bad idea," said Democratic Rep. Chad Campbell of Phoenix.

House Bill 2412 would allow school districts to authorize an unlimited number of teachers and other staff to be armed if they completed 24 hours of training from instructors approved by the attorney general's office or state peace officer training board. The required yearly training for teachers would include sessions on handling and storage of weapons, scenario-based training and familiarization with what police call "active shooter response."

The legislation is in its earliest stages, and it's too early to gauge its chances of passing.

Stevens sponsored a similar proposal last year with Horne, the state's top prosecutor, backing it as a way to beef up security at schools after a rash of shootings, including the December 2012 attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

That legislation never received a hearing, however, as an armed teachers bill sponsored by then-Sen. Rich Crandall, a Mesa Republican, which would have armed only rural teachers, made its way through the Senate and then died in the House.

Democrats are opposed to arming teachers or other school employees, saying such staffers would not have the required training or background to respond.

"It was a bad idea last year, it's a bad idea this year," said Campbell, the House minority leader. "Arming teachers, arming anybody that's not trained law enforcement in a complex environment like that, it's just a bad idea."

Such opponents say that assigning police as school resource officers makes for a better answer.

Horne also is an advocate of school resource officers and would like to have one on each campus, but said it's just not financially possible.

"If you don't have enough money to have school resource officers in all the schools then this is a second line of defense," Horne said.

The bill contains none of the other school safety measures floated last year, such as setting up a school safety improvement fund and doubling the number of school counselors. It instead appears to just be another in a series of efforts in the state to expand gun rights, Morrill said.

Morrill said the bill provides no money for additional school police officers. "That tells you school safety if not a priority," he said.

Stevens said his bill would be voluntary, leaving it to each school district to approve having armed teachers and relying on employees to volunteer for firearms training. He also said that only those teachers who were familiar with guns would likely apply.

"These aren't just going to be average citizens, they'll be people who want to do this training and probably already have some sort of background in weapons handling," Stevens said. "There's a lot of ex-military going into teaching."

Campbell said the state could find the money to put trained officers in most schools if it made school safety a priority, and he warned of the consequences of having non-professionals armed on campus.

"Arming teachers that aren't trained to handle complex situations, who aren't trained to handle the arrival of law enforcement, that's going to end up bad," Campbell said. "And at some point a teacher's going to shoot a student, shoot a parent, or shoot another teacher and then it's over with. The liability issues alone make this a ridiculous proposal."

Stevens believes his bill has a good chance to advance and blamed fighting over Medicaid, the state budget and Crandall's proposal for the demise of his proposal last year.

"When the budget came up we had like 600 bills that just languished," he said. "In a normal year it would have gotten through."

Related Stories:
• School officials opposed to arming teachers, say school resource officers are a better solution

Related Links:
• See related blog entry on PVtrib.com: Arming Arizona's teachers seems like a terrible idea.

Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, February 01, 2014
Article comment by: Bobby Fields

My first choice is resource officers. My second choice is armed teachers and staff members. I know a few teachers who I would absolutely trust to have a firearm with the safety of my son, and they don't even have the training that would be required by this legislation. I can think several of my teachers growing up, who taught in Humboldt Unified School District, that I would trust. I also know that any kid I went to school with definitely would think twice about tangling with some of those teachers, knowing they were armed.

I keep reading and hearing that teachers shouldn't be distracted with the possibility of having to use a firearm in the case of a school shooting. So, by that logic, they can just be distracted about NOT having a firearm to defend themselves, their students, and their fellow educators in the case of an armed gunman.

Perhaps the biggest asset we could benefit from in having armed teachers is their dedication to our youth population. I can't speak for teachers, but as an Army veteran I can relate to being dedicated to those you are entrusted with developing. Teachers want the best for their students, and I believe teachers who would be willing to shoulder the responsibility of being armed would take that responsibility very seriously.

Posted: Saturday, February 01, 2014
Article comment by: arms race

Some mentally Ill have utilized ak-47 type guns in their shooting sprees. So do we arm and train teach to use these type weapons? How about body armor,or maybe have a mini armored vehicle in the gym.
Arming anybody anywhere anytime is just stupid.
Imagine a world with no guns.
By the way, I get it that people kill people. What guns do is make the process much easier and impersonal.
Machine guns and hand grenades. are unlawful, lets just go a step down the food chain of weapons and outlaw guns.

Posted: Saturday, February 01, 2014
Article comment by: Motivated Dreamer

I figured out that if everyone in this community would save just 60 BOX TOPS for education in a year we could give the schools 240,000. There is no limit on the amount a school can get for these. There is also no restrictions on what the schools can use the money for. Don't ask us for more money we need to get motivated and use resources that are already out there. The products we buy give these to us freely we need to use them. Windowrock AZ got 32,000 for there school one year

Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Article comment by: CREATE DOUBT BABY!

I love that one: the insane wacko " I want to kill myself after I shoot" people will be so afraid they'll get shot they won't even go there. lol.

Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Article comment by: Hooty Hoo

I'll quote Wayne Lapierre, CEO of the NRA, after Sandy Hook: "The only thing that stops a person with a gun is another person with a gun". He called for school personnell to be armed. Sell some guns and ammo, there are a whole lotta schools out there baby!

Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Article comment by: Peace Nik

I have an idea. Since teachers are so under-valued and poorly paid in this state, why not give them police pay as well? Then, when students are killed, they can be placed on paid leave while administration investigates.

Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Article comment by: Barnaby Wild

If every parent contributed about $100 per child, each school with 500 students could hire an armed guard for $50,000 per year.

Create jobs, protect children. This is not complicated.

Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Article comment by: Give the job to

to Aimes and Whitney. They seem to have the answer to everything and appear to love the idea of being armed to the teeth roaming around public areas. Would be fun to watch until one of them gets antsy and shoots an innocent person, probably a child.

So, what do you say boys?

Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Article comment by: robert dawg

Too bad they didn't think this one up and included it on the recently failed school bond vote. The bond surely would have then passed with all the rabid right-winged teabagger republican voter bass in this ever so forward thinking communtiy.

Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Article comment by: Mr Protected

The blood is running in the street crowd just doesn't git it! It's not about being armed or not,It's about putting doubt in the shooters mind whether they are or not! Get rid of the gun free zones,so they will not be fish in the barrel !

Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Article comment by: Mike Bates

Yes Frank. Look at Israel. Let's replicate that experience.

Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Article comment by: REAL AMERICAN C.P.O. USN Retired RETIRED OLD MAN TOO

Arm all students pre-school and up...
There should be enough gun nuts around here to patrol the schools for free..

If teacher pack guns they have to be visible at all time.. Even in public..No concealed BS....

Posted: Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Article comment by: Frank Aimes

Air Marshall that is. Works fine. Protect kids.

Posted: Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Article comment by: Frank Aimes

Look at Israel. Armed and protected. No liberal B.S.

Only zones that prohibit guns are vulnerable to a nut job freely taking casualties.

Use Air Martial tactics and training. Are all of you liberal weenies afraid of such protection on the planes you fly in? Or do you just begrudge protection for kids?

Posted: Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Article comment by: Alan Whitney

This is so Republican, so far right wing, so 'don't tread on me', so very backward Arizona. rants and raves:

"...SICK! SICK! SICK!... Want gun battles in the school rooms and halls. Really?"

Not a bit of it! We just don't want the ONLY gunfire to come from some demented goblin.

DO try to process that, won't you?

Posted: Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Article comment by: J Rogers

No guns means no more children will be murdered. And it Saves Money.
Simple solution

Posted: Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Article comment by: Cynthia girard

get the money to put armed police at every school. I worked as a bus driver for husd. let me tell you it would be so easy to shoot up the buses while they are loading and unloading.. never mind inside the schools. having staff at the school with guns is such a stupid idea!

Posted: Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Article comment by: Worst Congress In US History

It is no wonder that people from more enlightened states and locales shake their heads and laugh at us in Arizona.

Arming teachers and school staff? Mixing kids and guns in school? What could possibly go wrong?

An equally funny sidebar might be that Tom Horne, who holds the highest legal position in the state, is an advocate. He does have competition in that regard from the likes of Joe Arpaio and David Stevens, among others, but given his track record, Horne gets the nod.

However, the prize winner has to be the Courier running as many fear-mongering stories as possible where there is even a remote connection to the 2nd Amendment. And consequently, the gun cultists of this area taking those articles seriously. Of course, we can look at an even brighter side of this trend. The Courier sells papers with this magic trick.

Remember, gun "rights" crowd, Obama is going to take your guns.


It's all so funny I could cry.

Posted: Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Article comment by: Byte Me

It seems to make sense to arm and train competent, willing school staff, rather than allowing our students and staff to go unprotected since there is no money to hire a cop for every school. I certainly hope that teachers are intelligent enough to learn to respond to a situation, and bright enough to be able to handle a gun responsibly. Would they rather have more of the school dollars go to hiring thousands of guards, or would they be willing to augment that force with a few well trained staff who are on campus anyway? I'm pretty sure there are already staff members who are trained in the use of weapons and tactics, ex military, retired law enforcement, etc.. Now is the time to get creative with our existing resources and not just whine for more money. It's not there.

Posted: Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Article comment by: This is so Republican, so far right wing, so 'don't tread on me', so very backward Arizona.

And so SICK! SICK! SICK! Solves nothing. Want gun battles in the school rooms and halls. Really?

Posted: Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Article comment by: Hooty Hoo

Talk about bad ideas. This takes the cake. And should an armed teacher hit someone by accident guess what? THEY GOES TO PRISON! Who's going to want that monkey on their back?

Posted: Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Article comment by: NRA Lifer

This borders on the obscene.

Guns have no place in the classroom or in the hands of our teachers. Yes, I believe in the right to own and bear arms. Yes, I believe in the right and freedom to protect myself, sometimes at all costs. But this is ludicrous.

Imagine the teacher, standing in front of her class teaching reading. Just where is his or her weapon? Likely locked in the desk as the law would require. After all, we need to prevent an unauthorized person or child from gaining access to that weapon. What good would that weapon do is an assailant burst into the room? It would likely get the teacher killed if they went for the gun.

And what about the children - surely they would know of it or be curious if their teacher was "packing" or not? Imagine the off-balance child who for whatever reason decides that it is time to create havoc and obtains that weapon? Then where would we be?

We need resource officers to protect our children. We need accountability for those gaining access to our schools and classrooms. We obviously cannot be responsible for ourselves so having an officer there would likely be the deterrent that we need. This goes way beyond budgets and over-rides. This is necessary.

Posted: Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Article comment by: Jim Hasak

Numerous armed teachers "on the spot" are more of a deterrent than one school resource officer, who can't be everywhere at once. And the school district can avoid the extra cost for resource officers.

As for training, the proposal is for participating teachers to be professionally trained.

Posted: Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Article comment by: paranoia strikes deep

Paranoia strikes deep
into your life it will creep
it starts when you're always afraid
Put your kids in a locked down boarding school if you are that frightened that you need to arm teachers.

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