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In Response to House Bill 37

Last night, the Senate Committee on Revenue and Fiscal Affairs amended House Bill 37 by Representative McCormick. These amendments would allow school districts to appoint teachers and school administrators to become voluntary “school protection officers” who are authorized to carry a concealed firearm in school. This new law would put all of the responsibility and liability directly onto our teachers. Teachers would be expected to provide their own gun, obtain their own concealed carry firearm permit, complete a minimum of 400 hours of training on their own personal time, and carry all the responsibility and liability if anything goes wrong.

Louisiana’s teachers are already overworked and underpaid; constantly taking on additional responsibilities and duties without receiving the respect and appreciation they deserve. We can not continue to expect teachers to fix all of society’s problems.

An analysis by the National Institute of Justice found that in the six mass school shootings and 39 attempted mass school shootings between 1999 and 2019, more than nine in 10 shooters were current or former students at the school. It is not fair to ask educators in a moment of extreme duress to switch from the role of an education professional to a law enforcement officer. It is not fair to ask an educator to possibly kill a child they have taught.

Teachers are there to teach. To help children grow and reach their academic potential. Like their students, they have the right to expect that their schools will be safe. They have the right to expect that public officials and security officers will keep them safe.

We need thoughtful and meaningful action to keep our schools and surrounding communities safe. It’s time for our leaders to adopt a multifaceted approach that provides school communities with the tools they need to intervene and prevent school-based gun violence, not a law hastily thrown together in the last days of the legislative session. Our teachers and students deserve better.

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