More than a month removed from the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida, legislators continue to debate what steps need to be taken to prevent the next school massacre.
On Tuesday, legislators in Kansas considered one of the more controversial potential solution: arming teachers.
State legislators debated House Bill 2789, which would make some Kansas staff as emergency first responders, according to KAKE-TV. The bill would also establish plans to arm teachers with concealed weapons.
The bill, known as the “SAFER Act,” would also create comprehensive school safety plans to ensure an efficient response to mass casualty situations. Each school district would work with state agencies to determine the best plan.
If the bill is passes, arming teachers wouldn’t just be a voluntary measure. KAKE reported the bill mandates school districts select teachers to participate in the program. Selected teachers would be required to possess a license to carry concealed weapons with a “SAFER” endorsement, which would further allow them to carry that weapon in “any building."
The bill would ensure the privacy of any teacher selected for the program, so students and other school staff are unaware of which teachers are packing heat.
If passed, the legislation would take effect on Jan. 1.
The Kansas City Star reported that Kansas lawmakers passed a law in 2013 that allowed certain teachers to carry concealed weapons in school buildings. However, insurance companies that cover Kansas school districts said they wouldn’t do business with districts that allowed armed teachers, effectively nullifying that law.
However, HB 2789 would prevent insurance companies from penalizing districts that have armed teachers.
Have other states considered similar laws?
According to the Wall Street Journal, eight states, including Texas, Oklahoma, and Wyoming, already have laws on the books that allow K-12 teachers to carry concealed weapons at school for protection.
Meanwhile, six other states, including Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Maryland, are exploring new legislation to arm teachers or to streamline the process.