A new Act has been proposed that would allow North Carolina teachers to carry guns in schools. Some state lawmakers think that there is a chance of it being approved this year. The School Security Act of 2019 was filed, and would boost the salaries of teachers who went through specialized police training to carry firearms on public school campuses.
This same bill was filed last year, but did not get approved. Senator Jerry Tillman, one of the new sponsors of Senate Bill 192, says that the current climate changed enough to gain more support.
“This is an idea whose time has come,” said Tillman, a Republican from Randolph County. “With the heightened awareness of the legislature, I believe this bill will see success.” The other two primary sponsors of the bill are Republican senators Ralph Hise and Warren Daniel.
Another bill, the School Self-Defense Act, was filed in the state House. This bill would allow teachers to be armed but would not raise salaries to those who chose to do so. This bill had also been filed last year and was not passed.
Mark Jewell, president of the N.C. Association of Educators, said that the group would continue fighting any efforts to arm teachers.
“It’s a disaster waiting to happen,” said Jewell. “We continue to be opposed to arming our teachers with firearms. Arm us with the resources we need to teach our kids to be safe.”
This time last year, soon after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, 379 North Carolina teachers were surveyed on whether they feel it’s a bad idea to arm teachers in schools. 78 percent of those who participated said it’s a bad idea. Even if guns were limited to a small number of educators who received specialized training, 69 percent still were opposed to the idea.
Tillman, a retired school administrator, claimed that as new security issues become more prevalent in schools, the interest in arming teachers gets higher.
The School Security Act would offer a five percent salary raise to as many as 3,000 teachers who complete training programs, becoming, “teacher resource officers.” This training and title would allow for the same arrest power on campus as a school resource officer, who is a certified law enforcement officer assigned to work on school campuses.
The bill would provide $9.3 million to cover the costs of training and raises for teachers participating in the 2019-20 school year.
The bill would also allow for confidentiality for the teachers who are armed. Tillman said that this will make shooters think before walking into a classroom not knowing if the teacher they encounter will be armed.
“It’s a big deterrent to somebody going to shoot up a school,” said Tillman. “You need to stop them any way you can.”
Jewell said the answer is more support staff rather than more guns.
“We need to be armed with support specialists—counselors, nurses, school psychologists—all of those trained professionals who meet the social-emotional health of our students needs,” said Jewell.
Although still unsure of whether the bill will be passed, many North Carolina teachers are still against the possibility and dangers of what arming teachers will lead to.