New NC bill aims to allow teachers to carry guns in the classroom

Joel Brown Image
Saturday, March 2, 2019
New NC bill aims to allow teachers to carry guns in the classroom
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Cabarrus County State Rep. Larry Pittman filed House Bill 216 on Wednesday.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- It was last year in the aftermath of the mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida that Cabarrus County State Rep. Larry Pittman filed a similar bill that made it legal for North Carolina teachers to carry guns into the classroom.

But after the bill failed to gain traction, Pittman's giving it another try. He filed House Bill 216 on Wednesday.

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Kristin Beller, a Wake County kindergarten teacher with 15 years of experience in the classroom, told ABC11 she would "absolutely not" feel comfortable carrying a gun in her classroom.

Beller has been relieved from teaching to serve as president of the Wake County chapter of the NC Association of Educators.

ABC11 wanted her opinion on HB216 that would give gun rights on school grounds to any volunteer faculty or staff member with a valid concealed handgun permit or a volunteer school safety resource officer.

"Is law enforcement the thing that we want to be giving over to volunteers?" Beller said. "It's never a good idea to have more guns in a school setting."

Representative Pittman did not return ABC11's calls or email requests to comment on his bill, but he shared the sentiments of President Donald Trump, who believes gun-free school zones are simply an invitation to "maniacal" attackers, and that teachers could be an added line of defense.

At a roundtable discussion on school violence, the president explained, "It's called concealed carry, where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them. They'd go for special training and they would be there and you would no longer have a gun-free zone."

Beller argued that students need the teacher to teach them how to be part of the community - not teachers with concealed weapons.

"If (lawmakers) are truly holding our students at the center, then they would also agree that we need to have schools that are structurally sound and safe, curriculum developed and resourced by the state, adequate adult to student ratios, and schools to help teach them how to treat each other and how we take care of each other," she said. "It is not our role to be carrying weapons."

In a poll last year by Elon University and the News & Observer, a combined 25 percent of North Carolina teachers said "yes" or "maybe" to carrying a gun in their classroom while 78 percent said it was a bad idea.