Indiana House approves school safety bill

School gun mandate dropped

INDIANAPOLIS - A bill designed to protect Hoosier kids at school is one step closer to Gov. Mike Pence's signature.

The House overwhelmingly approved the bill that stirred up a ruckus when it was amended to mandate arming teachers or principals.  

The bill as now written provides state funding for School Resource Officers, trained law enforcement personnel who would study school buildings and recommend safety plans. 

It no longer mandates putting guns in the hands of volunteer principals, teachers or parents for the assignment of repelling armed invaders.

House members pulled out that provision last week and voted to send it to a summer study committee.

But the man who originally sponsored the guns in schools idea took one last turn at the microphone to warn colleagues that waiting will do no good and that schools are no more protected today than they were at the time of the Columbine shooting more than a decade ago.

"When a person commits themself to going to a school and murdering innocent women and children and staff members, the only defense that we can provide at that time is somebody that is trained and equipped to combat what is going on," said Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour.

One complaint about the armed volunteers was about what people perceived as a lack of training. 

The School Resource Officers would have more training, because they would already be sworn police officers, but they would not be present in each school.

"The School Resource Officers will be required to have 40 hours of training about schools and school campuses and how to deal with school issues," said Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel. "And that's all on top of the requirement that they already have in order to become a law enforcement officer."

The bill is now going to a House-Senate conference committee, but sponsors said that is only to work out minor differences between the two chambers. 

They said they will not attempt to re-insert the mandate for armed volunteers.

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