Bill calls for armed teachers

A retired teacher, some lawmakers and members of Grass Roots North Carolina held a news conference Tuesday in favor of House Bill 1039, which would allow teachers to be armed.

A handful of Republican lawmakers sponsored the "School Self-Defense Act," in response to school shootings, like the one in Parkland, Florida.

The bill was filed last week but is not currently scheduled to be heard.

"HB 1039, School Self-Defense Act, would have allowed this common sense, practical solution to be implemented in North Carolina," said Representative Larry Pittman (R) 82nd District, one of the bill's sponsors. "However, seeking to avoid controversy in an election year, our leadership has chosen not to allow this bill even to be heard in committee. This is a failure to act that I fear may one day cost lives that could have been saved."

House Bill 1039 authorizes some faculty or staff members to carry a handgun onto school grounds "to respond to acts of violence or an imminent threat of violence."

"I believe that there are many teachers who would want to be armed and want to be in a position to protect their children from any kind of a school shooter," said Jean Fitzsimmons, a retired teacher.

Under the bill, the person would need a valid concealed handgun permit and 16 hours of active shooter training. Plus, the school or governing body could opt out.

But Kimberly Reynolds, the Executive Director of the North Carolina Democratic Party, said common-sense solutions like background checks are what's needed.

"I just can't believe that arming teachers is a good idea," Reynolds said. "I think arming them with guns is just a ludicrous idea and it isn't what we need to do for teachers. And it isn't really addressing the root problem. There are common-sense solutions out there that the Governor has proposed, things like background checks."

The NCAE, which organized the recent massive teacher rally in Raleigh, said it opposes arming teachers.

"We should be armed with resources to help our students be successful like counselors, psychologists, social workers, and school nurses," NCAE President Mark Jewell said. "We need fewer guns in our classrooms and communities, not more."

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