published Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Tennessee House Speaker Harwell doesn’t favor arming classroom teachers

Poll
Should teachers be armed?

NASHVILLE — House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, said today she doesn’t believe allowing Tennessee teachers go armed is the answer to last week’s massacre of elementary schoolchildren in Connecticut.

“I think it would be asking way too much of our teachers for them to be armed in a classroom, and I’m not in favor of going down that route,” she told reporters. “I really think you really have to be highly qualified to handle a gun in a high-stress situation, which is in fact what that was.”

In recent days, two East Tennessee Republican lawmakers have broached the idea of allowing teachers or school staffers to be trained and armed.

In a blog posting, Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, said he will be bringing back legislation “to allow licensed and checked faculty and staff, at schools, to be able to have a gun on campus if a safety officer is not present on campus.”

Newly elected Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, has said he is interested in putting law enforcement officers or “similarly trained” school staffers in schools.

Harwell said she was stating her “personal opinion” and doesn’t know what her GOP colleagues’ thinking is.

But since the schoolhouse killings of 20 children and six adults by a lone gunman, “certainly we’ve realized we need additional security in our schools and unfortunately that’s a really sad commentary on our society,” Harwell said.

Asked whether the state should provide additional funding for school resource officers, Harwell said, “I’m not proposing any legislation to that regard. I’m just speaking my personal opinion.”

She said “many times that’s a local decision” to have armed law enforcement on hand at schools.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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