W.Va. House considers bill allowing teachers to carry guns in school

Published: Mar. 16, 2021 at 7:22 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - The West Virginia House of Delegates is considering a bill that would allow teachers and other school employees to have concealed carry weapons in the classroom.

Teachers in kindergarten through 12th grade could apply to their superintendent for permission to become a School Protection Officer. They could then begin a Department of Homeland Security and Sheriff’s Department training process to get certified to have a gun, pepper spay or other allowed protective weapon in school.

The school must hold a public hearing on the matter before allowing the weapons to be carried in school, and the school employees that get approval will not be made public for safety reasons.

The bill said all teachers must keep the weapon on their person and under control at all times it is on school property. The bill does not include language on when it would be appropriate for a school employee to use a weapon in school.

Supporters of the bill argued during Tuesday afternoon’s House Education Committee Meeting that it will increase safety in the event of a school shooting or other violent incident. Opponents said there are too many risks involved with having guns in schools, including a student getting ahold of it or a student getting shot with a stray bullet.

“Ultimately, it’s about protecting the students from dangers in the school or out of the school,” Del. Joshua Higginbotham (R-Putnam) said. “Because, as we know, the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

“Let’s leave it in the hands of those who are trained to take care of safety issues,” West Virginia American Federation of Teachers President Fred Albert said. “Teachers are trained for safety issues, but as far as security, let’s leave that in the hands of the law enforcement and let teachers do their job.”

Albert and other lawmakers called for funds to be allocated toward getting more School Resource Officers in buildings, instead of training teachers to have weapons.

“The only other alternative is to put a security guard or policeman in the school and that’s just not a feasible thing to do,” Higginbotham said. “So, why not have somebody, let’s say is a veteran who is now teaching science at a local high school, as long as they’re certified and trained to carry a weapon, a conceded carry, why not allow them to protect the school?”

If the bill passes the House Education Committee, it will be referred to the House Judiciary Committee before going to the full House for a vote.

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