Teacher unions not supporting school gun legislationPosted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland
PHOENIX -- Many Arizona teachers are not ready to pull the trigger on a plan that would allow guns in classrooms.
“We’re not armed guards, and that’s not part of our profession,” Arizona Education Association President Andrew Morrill said.
The AEA came out swinging at House Bill 2656 Tuesday.
“We’re not bodyguards," Morrill told 3TV. "When you talk to the majority of teachers, you will find out that arming themselves is not something that they see as part of the teaching job.”
The bill was officially introduced at the Capitol today. It would provide at least one teacher or other school employee with three days of training in marksmanship and judgment about when to shoot and when not to shoot. That employee would then be able to carry a weapon to class and keep it locked up but within reach.
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne supports the bill and says it would help fill gaps on Arizona campuses that no longer have school resource officers, due to budget cuts.
“So, in those schools where we can’t have a school resource officer, we should have at least one person well trained to be able to defend the students if that should be necessary,” Horne said.
Substitute teacher Teresa Binder agrees.
“Some of these schools are located in rural areas,” she said. “Some of these schools, it’s going to take 20 to 30 minutes to have a police officer or a SWAT team or anybody there on campus.”
But Morrill argues the guns could actually put students in danger.
“It’s kind of like student safety roulette," he said. "You’re betting that the firearm in the hands of a good person is going to be there at the proper time when the ball stops rolling and a violent act breaks out.”
He says if lawmakers are genuinely concerned about student safety, then they should find the funds to put officers at every single school.
“If firearms are to be present on campus, then our position is clear – bring in fully trained police officers who are then doubly trained to be police officers on a campus.”
The AEA also recommends increasing the number of school counselors, promoting anti-bullying messages, and installing perimeter fences and security gates.
If HB 2656 passes, it would be optional for schools, not required.