A state lawmaker wants to arm school personnel with guns if the school does not have its own resource officer.
Rep. Paul Battles (R-Cartersville) tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish his wife is a former school administrator and he has been concerned for years about school safety.
He says the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut only solidifies the need for action, and many school systems can not afford their own police force or resource officers.
“What we’ve looked at is an alternative so we can provide the security and do it in the safest manner,” says Battles.
Under his bill, any teacher, principal, or school administrator would first have to undergo a background check, be permitted to carry, pass the same training course required for police officers and then become certified.
But Sen. Lester Jackson (D-Savannah) says he disagrees with arming school personnel.
“School counselors, school principals, school administrators where trained to teach our children… that should be their first and primary focus,” he says. “Any other training dilutes their responsibilities.”
Battles says his legislation would not force school systems to comply.
Meantime, Sen. Donzella James (D-Atlanta) has introduced legislation to ban certain types of semi-automatic rifles and pistols, what she refers to “assault weapons”.
“Why put them in the hands of everyday people? Why put them assessable to maybe felons and children?” she asks.
Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) says he also plans to introduce legislation that would limit the size of magazines as well as stricter background checks.
“If we’re concerned about the mentally unstable and if we’re concerned about criminals getting their hands on guns, we have to do something about background checks,” he says.
But House Speaker David Ralston told me before the legislative session began that he is in no hurry to pass any new guns laws in wake of the Newtown tragedy.
“I just think it’s a little distasteful to politicize that kind of issue frankly, whether its people on either side of the issue,” he says.
He does, however, think the state needs to look at whether it’s doing enough to treat mental illness.