Georgia Voices: School districts with public safety concerns should hire professionals
by The Savannah Morning News
July 08, 2014 01:32 AM | 1106 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
According to published reports, few, if any, school districts plan to do it, even though a sweeping state law goes into effect Tuesday and expands where Georgians can legally carry firearms.

As of July 1, each district has the option of arming teachers or staff, but requiring them to set training schedules. In other words, just giving a pistol to the staffer who’s closest to the front door was never an option, although that’s of little comfort.

Law-abiding Georgians have a constitutional right to own and carry firearms.

But the idea of arming teachers, paraprofessionals, principals, secretaries and others employed in school districts — as a way to prevent or bring down killers who prey on school children — was poorly conceived and mostly motivated by election-year politics.

If a school district has a public safety concern — and many of them do — then they should hire professionals. Putting campus police in the hallways is more responsible than giving pistols and shooting lessons to math teachers or lunchroom monitors.

Georgia isn’t the first state to respond to school violence by allowing staff to carry guns.

After 20 children and six adults died during a 2012 elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., at least nine states passed bills in 2013 authorizing armed school personnel, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Other states had similar programs in place before that shooting. In 2014, at least 14 more states including Georgia introduced similar bills.

Phillip Hartley, an attorney who works with the Georgia Schools Boards Association and dozens of local boards, talked to a room of board members about the issue at a recent conference. He said he felt a “reluctance to be the first” without a serious push from parents.

“There just hasn’t been that kind of groundswell,” Mr. Hartley said.

Give school officials an “A” for using good judgment about an idea that’s a dud.

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