Ga. lawmaker suggests school principals should carry guns
SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -
Principals possibly packing heat is just one of the many proposals heading for discussion during the 2013 Georgia legislative session.
State Representative Paul Battles, from Bartow County, doesn't want the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut to happen at any school in Georgia. Rep. Battles is proposing public school districts decide whether their principals should carry firearms on school property.
Rep. Battles believes it could prevent a mass shooting in any Georgia school.
But Senior State Senator Lester Jackson, from Savannah's District Two, believes the trained and certified resource officers on the campuses of the Savannah-Chatham County public schools are doing a good job protecting students.
Sen. Jackson believes adding another staff member, armed with a weapon, will just create more problems.
"I don't think parents would be as secure with someone who's not fully trained, carrying a firearm or having the use of a firearm on their person," he explained. "And what type of firearm would it be? And would it be a private or school issued weapon?"
Sen. Jackson said if the weapon is issued by the school system, then that school system would be held liable if something went wrong.
The Superintendent Advisory Committee at the Effingham County Board of Education talked about Rep. Battle's proposal on Tuesday. They also took a vote. According to assistant superintendent Greg Arnsdorff, no one wanted the responsibility of carrying a firearm on school grounds.
The Effingham County School System said they have five resource officers. Those officers cover the two high schools and three middle schools in the county. All of the resource officers are paid by the school district. Arnsdorff said they don't need more weapons, but more money from the state of Georgia.
"I think what we would be open to is to receive additional funding from the state to allow the school district to make decisions based on individual needs, on school buildings, and on the school district," he said.
The Effingham County School District also works closely with the Effingham County Sheriff's Office to conduct mock active shooter training events inside the schools.
A similar bill has been filed in South Carolina that would arm public school employees who have a concealed weapons permit. Jasper County Superintendent Dr. Vashti Washington says the school has a number of security measures including school resource officers in place and they plan to add more but the idea behind giving employees guns is something she is against.
"I'm totally against that. I think we do not solve a problem by adding to the problem of arming teachers in the schools. I think that is a whole other discussion," said Washington.
She says the school plans to discuss the possibility of adding key cards to the doors and even fencing in the entire campus.