Other states have allowed teachers to carry as a preventative measure.
“It would incorporate mostly live shooter scenarios. So then teachers are familiar with how to approach that gunman on campus, how to interact with getting children away from… danger situations and how to confront that until law enforcement arrives,” said Putnam.
Judy O’Neal, a teacher in Rock Hills, supports the idea. She believes that a teacher “with proper training would improve safety in schools.” She also knows it will not go into effect overnight:
“I believe it will take a lot of planning and a lot of scrutinizing before it just hops on to campus,” O’Neal said.
Dr. Jacqueline Persinski told Fox News she does not support the bill, believing that more guns cause more violence. Instead, she wants the responsibility of protecting children to stay with the school resource officers (SRO):
“Our police officers are trained by profession to handle hostile situations, and teachers are not,” Persinski said. “If a situation were to occur, I believe our SRO and police are well-trained and fully capable of managing it effectively and efficiently. Teachers are trained to protect students in lockdown procedures and will protect the students until police arrive. Using weapons is completely different. “
But Putnam explained that not all schools in South Carolina have those officers, especially in the rural areas:
“It would cost the state of South Carolina $83 million to hire enough resource officers to have one in every single school,” Putnam said. “With all the challenges we face in the state, from road funding, to teacher shortages, to teacher pay, to highway patrol funding, trying to find $83 million in the state budget is quite difficult. But we do believe it’s a worthwhile goal. I think we need to work towards eventually having a school resource officer in every single school in South Carolina.”
Putnam also said for now, arming teachers will “be the quickest and cheapest solution” until the state can instill officers in every school:
Putnam says the new bill covers training requirements, which would be designed and implemented by local law enforcement.
“The state law enforcement division would have to develop materials and a training class that would be offered free of charge… It would be similar to a [concealed weapons permit] test and training, but it would incorporate mostly live shooter scenarios.”
The principal and school district would approve any teacher that volunteers to carry. The teacher must then complete “training and get certified by the State Law Enforcement Division.” The principal and some members of the board will only know which teachers decided to carry that day:
“They would have to sign a log at the office of the school allowing the principal and the administrators to know that they’re carrying that day,” Putnam said.
Unfortunately, school shootings still occur and other states have decided to take this route as a preventative measure.
In June 2015, one small Idaho school district “purchased firearms and trained a handful of staff to use them should a school shooting happen.” This district is located far from the reaches of law enforcement:
It takes police at least 45 minutes to reach the Garden Valley School District, which is made up of less than 300 students all taught under the same building. Limited funds have prevented the school from hiring police officers to patrol the building during school hours.
As a result, the school board approved this month purchasing guns to remain locked inside the school and trained six employees to use the weapons in case of an emergency.
“I hope we never have to use them,” said Alan Ward, a school board member who has been discussing this option with the school for two years. “But in the event something did happen, we wanted to be prepared.”
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