The Herald Bulletin

Midday Update

Breaking News

April 5, 2013

Pence against school guns mandate

(Continued)

"I hate the idea of a mandate, but when the mechanism is in place and no one is taking advantage of what I feel is the best way to protect our children and educators, then sometimes things like this have to be initiated," Lucas said.

The firearms requirement was added to a Senate-based bill that aimed to start a state grant program to help school districts hire police officers who've undergone extra training and buy safety equipment.

The Senate budget proposal released Thursday included $10 million for that program.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said he believed the state could authorize arming school employees under training standards developed by the state Department of Homeland Security and other agencies.

"I think it needs to be optional," Long said. "We shouldn't be mandating unless we're providing for all the costs."

Long said it was important for the Legislature to move ahead with such steps, even as the Pence administration works with the Department of Education and law enforcement agencies to craft more detailed school safety proposals.

"Seeing these increasing attacks on the schools and the copycats that are out there, I think it's irresponsible for us not to try to do everything we can to better secure our schools," he said.

Lawmakers in more than 20 states are considering allowing armed school employees, but no states require armed employees in schools, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Rep. Sue Errington, D-Muncie, was among those who voted against the armed personnel provision when it was debated Tuesday in the House Education Committee. She said it was brought forward with no public notice and that she was glad others were seeing faults with it.

Errington said she was concerned about teachers or principals taking on the role of carrying a gun.

"That's just not what they do," she said. "Their job is to teach the kids."

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