House panel approves bill allowing designated teachers to carry guns in schools

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NASHVILLE - A House panel on Wednesday approved a bill allowing all Tennessee school districts to designate teachers trained by private firms to carry firearms despite objections from parents, teachers, a gun-reform group and Haslam administration officials who warned it might backfire.

The party-line 5-2 vote in the Civil Justice Subcommittee came in the midst of a national debate about school safety after the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 students and teachers dead.

Panel chairman Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, voted for the measure, arguing that because the state isn't adequately funding school resource officers - law enforcement officers who receive special additional training to protect schools - "are we not directing nuts to the least-covered areas?"

He said only about 40 percent of school systems statewide are covered and only about 34 percent of the schools in Hamilton County.