In South Dakota, Teachers Can Now Carry Guns to School
A bill was signed into law on Friday which allows school districts to arm school teachers and other personnel. The bill was signed by South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaaard and is largely in response to the recent school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.
Though some states have provisions in their gun laws allowing teachers to carry firearms in the classroom, South Dakota is the first to actually pass the law which will go into effect July 1. South Dakota school administrators and teachers said arming personnel could lead to accidental shootings and put weapons in the hands of inadequately trained people, the Associated Press reported.
The National Rifle Association has proposed a plan to put armed guards in all public schools but this has not garnered much support yet. The NRA is also doing outreach to various groups, including the African American community, arguing that the solution to guns in the street is to have more guns.
Some states already have gun laws in place but the public is unaware of them. For instance, in Alabama, teachers are allowed to carry guns in public schools, on the proviso that the carrier does not have intent to do bodily harm.
The decision whether to arm local teachers will be left up to the discretion of the local school boards. Party Republican Representative, Stace Nelson, stated that “educators are trusted to teach students, so they also can be trusted to protect students from harm.”
Rep. Scott Craig, R-RapidCity, the bill’s main sponsor, said he was working on the enforcement of this law with officials when the Connecticut tragedy happened. He said that this, “only affirmed the rightness of this bill.” He said the measure does not force a district to arm its teachers or force teachers to carry a gun.
He went on to say, “Given the national attention to safety in schools, specifically in response to tragedies like in Connecticut, this is huge,” he said. He added that, hopefully, “dominoes will start to fall, people will see it’s reasonable, it’s safer than they think, it’s proactive and it’s preventive.”
Some who oppose the bill said that it could make schools more dangerous, lead to accidental shootings and that there is a risk of unqualified people having guns who don’t know what to do in an emergency situation.
Executive director of School Administrators of South Dakota, Rob Monson, is one of the people opposing the law, he said, “We were really hoping that they would look at doing a more comprehensive study of school safety overall, and not sort of jump right into arming people in our schools and thinking that is the answer to it all.”