A bill that would fund specialized, optional firearm safety training for teachers in certain districts has been sent to the governor’s desk.
Currently, state law allows local school boards to determine whether administrators, teachers and other staff can carry a firearm on school grounds.
HB 1177 would reallocate funding from the Indiana Safe Schools and related funds for optional firearms instruction for school employees.
The bill also puts money toward counseling services for students, teachers, school staff and employees in the event of a school shooting.
The bill’s author, Rep. Jim Lucas (R-Seymour) has said in previous committee discussions of the bill that he wants to “avoid mandates.” However, he said he wants to offer this option as a way for teachers who do carry to feel safer.
“This training class – 40 plus hours – is designed to take the average person on the street and get them to a level of proficiency that in the event of an active shooter situation, they will at least have an opportunity to defend themselves and those around them if they so choose,” he said.
Others testifying in earlier hearings – like Chris Lagoni, executive director of the Indiana Small and Rural Schools Association – said the training would allow smaller school districts to protect their children.
“I’m not sure people understand how many – how few – officers are actually on duty in a rural county if something were to happen,” he said.
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However, opponents of the bill addressed concerns for things like improper gun storage.
In prior hearings, Rep. Tonya Pfaff (D-Terre Haute), who is also a teacher, said this legislation does not go far enough in addressing safety concerns.
“I walk around my classroom up and down through the aisles and I help students,” she said. “What happens if a kid just decides to grab it off my holster?”
Previous iterations of the bill also included a proposed amendment that would notify parents if a teacher in their child’s classroom is authorized to carry a gun.
That amendment failed in the Senate education committee.
Many testifying in prior hearings, including Sarah Williams with the Marion County Commission on Youth, said the bill should’ve included this amendment.
“As a committee who has been championing parental rights this session, I was very disappointed to see the opposition to amendment number three to this bill,” she said.
The bill now heads to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s desk – where he has seven days to either sign it, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature.