The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

January 2, 2013

Bill to propose arming trained school personnel

— A state legislator has announced his intentions to pre-file a bill that would allow school systems to arm some teachers and administrators on school campuses.

State Rep. Kerry Rich (R-Albertville) told the Associated Press on Dec. 28 he plans to pre-file the bill, which would require firearms training every six months and allow school systems to implement the legislation.

As of Dec. 31, Rich’s bill had not been pre-filed in the Alabama Legislature. Members of the 105-member House of Representatives have filed 28 bills to date. The Legislature’s general session begins Feb. 5.

The House Education Policy Committee, chaired by Mary Sue McClurkin (R-Pelham), will discuss the bill with law-enforcement and education officials, including state Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice, on Jan. 9.

Rich’s reasoning

Rich, who has served 10 years in the House, told the AP that he believes the legislation would help prevent incidents such as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 20 students and six staff members dead.

He told WAFF-48 that gun-free school zones make them susceptible to mass shootings, and that arming school staff would provide another line of defense.

“The principal of the (Sandy Hook) approached this guy, and then he gunned her down,” Rich said. “If she had a weapon to where she could have approached this guy and taken him out, then the lives of a lot of people, especially the children, could have been saved.”

He also said the bill would offer another viable option to school systems that can’t afford school resource officers.

In an AP interview, McClurkin agreed with Rich’s reasoning that had Sandy Hook Principal Dawn Hochsprung been armed when she confronted the school shooter, “he would not have been able to kill as many.”

There has been lukewarm response to Rich’s proposal from educators, law-enforcement officials and fellow legislators.

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