A bill currently making its way through the Oklahoma legislature known as the “Teacher Carry Bill” would allow educators to carry weapons in the classroom even if they have not received additional weapons training.
Currently in Oklahoma, only teachers who have valid armed security guard license or a valid reserve peace officer certification can bring a weapon into the classroom. Both of those certifications require 240 hours of training, but the new bill, which was voted out of committee this past week, would lower that requirement to zero hours.
“Our teachers are trained to be educators, not law enforcement, and increasing the number of teachers carrying guns in our schools will not make our kids safer,” Oklahoma Moms Demand Action said in a statement.
“This issue for me is kind of personal because it would challenge my principles as a classroom teacher, knowing if I draw my weapon, you’re prepared to take the life on the other end of the barrel. If that were my student, I wouldn’t be able to do that,” state Sen. Carrie Hicks, a former teacher and licensed gun owner, told KTUL-Tulsa.
Oklahoma school superintendents are also wary of the legislation.
Rusty Harris, superintendent of Haskell Public Schools, also expressed concern about arming teachers to KTUL: “You’re bent over at a desk and then the one next to you snatches the gun out of your holster or whatever it might be and hypothetical here. But at the same time, if we lock it up in a desk drawer, can you get it out in enough time to protect yourself, the kids?”
Another superintendent, Shane Gilbreath of Fletcher Public Schools, is also opposed to the bill: “If you concentrate 99 percent of your time teaching class, you shouldn’t be thinking about that gun, and so if you don’ think about it all the time, you probably aren’t going to be good at it,” he told KSWO.
Currently, 30 states and the District of Columbia only allow security officers to carry weapons in schools. Eight states allow school employees, including teachers, to carry weapons but unlike Oklahoma’s proposed bill, most require some kind of additional training or a concealed carry permit, according to the Education Commission of the States. However, at least 24 states defer to the districts or school boards to decide their own policies for weapons on campus.