Indiana legislative committee drops proposed requirement that all schools have armed staff member

Schools are allowed to opt out

INDIANAPOLIS - An Indiana legislative committee has dropped a proposed requirement that all public and charter schools have a gun-carrying employee during school hours.

The House Ways and Means Committee voted 16-7 on Tuesday to advance to the full House the bill that keeps the provisions for armed civilians in the schools, but allows school districts to decide each year whether they want to opt out. The bill would keep those school district decisions confidential.

"On an annual basis, at least once annually, the governing body of a public school must hold an executive session to consider this," said Rep. Jeffrey Thompson, R-Lizton. "They all must hold it, regardless of what their plans are. And then in that executive session, they'll either apply for the waiver or not apply."

The idea is to keep potential gunmen from knowing which schools have guards and which don't. 

The new language also requires staff members who serve as the guards to keep their guns hidden to protect their identity and also, once again, to keep a shooter guessing. 

But opponents still say the whole idea is bad and are particularly unhappy about what they see as a lack of training of the guards, who would not have as much instruction as a regular police officer.

"Mothers are extremely concerned about the idea of a civilian armed in our schools," said Carmel resident Nicky McNally. "The idea of minimally trained, armed individuals in our schools is to me, the mother of four, terrifying."

But sponsors say this idea is better than the current situation and is logical and cost-effective.

"At least they have a means of defense," said Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour. "Nothing is fail-safe. I never said that. And every person in this room can acknowledge there's nothing we can do, short of locking our schools down and turning them into prisons where everybody goes in and out one entrance and they're scanned."

The bill has until Monday to pass the full House.

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