published Friday, April 19th, 2013

Bill allowing armed teachers in Tennessee headed to Gov. Haslam

  • Local representative will present bill allowing teachers to carry guns
    State Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, held a news conference Monday to announce that he will present a bill allowing "highly-trained" teachers to carry guns in state schools.

NASHVILLE — A bill aimed at giving Tennessee schools more security is on its way to Gov. Bill Haslam after the House took final action on the measure Thursday.

House Bill 6, sponsored by Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, would allow schools to approve teachers who have law enforcement backgrounds and have undergone specialized training, to go armed. It also would permit schools to hire retired police officers and others with specialized law enforcement to provide an armed presence in schools.

Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond first floated the idea of using recent retirees earlier this year as a less expensive alternative than putting school resource officers, who work for police agencies, in schools.

The moves come in response to last December’s massacre of 20 children and six teachers in a Newtown, Conn., shooting.

Some lawmakers had proposed arming teachers who had handgun-carry permits, undergone a criminal background check and had minimum training.

Haslam has included $34 million in annual funding in his budget that schools could use.

Local school districts can decide whether to take advantage of the law and also add other qualifications and requirements.

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