INDIANAPOLIS — While legislators in other states are wrestling with the idea of allowing teachers to carry guns in school, those in Indiana already can.
A state law that makes schools gun-free zones exempts anyone who has been employed or authorized by a school "to act as a security guard, perform or participate in a school function, or participate in any other activity authorized by a school."
School safety consultant Chuck Hibbert , a former Indiana state trooper, said he discussed the law with state Department of Education officials earlier this year, before a gunman went on a shooting spree last week and killed 26 people in Newtown, Conn. They concluded schools could designate teachers or other employees as security officers and allow them to be armed.
"I guess theoretically, the school district could designate everyone (as security officers) if they wanted to be that crazy," Hibbert said.
Lawmakers in at least five states have proposed arming teachers so they can defend students following last week's shootings in Newtown. Republican state Sen. Jim Tomes said Thursday that he had planned to introduce similar legislation in Indiana, but then he learned that state law already permits teachers to carry guns in some situations.
"I guess it's actually a policy decision," Tomes said, adding that he believes the option is one that school officials around the state should consider.
"I believe it really has an immediate effect on these things happening, or at least happening to this degree," Tomes said.
Katie Stephens, a spokeswoman for the Indiana Department of Education, said she didn't know of any school district in the state that allowed teachers to carry guns, and other experts agreed.
"I have never heard of anybody doing that, other than the school safety officer," said Jim Freeland, executive director of the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents.