School guns mandate sent to summer study committee

Bill would still provide fund resource officers

INDIANAPOLIS - The controversial plan to arm teachers, principals or parents in Indiana schools might be dead for the year.

The House voted Thursday to send the idea to a summer study committee. 
Hoosiers with doubts about arming school employees or parents with no police training or experience apparently gave enough lawmakers second thoughts that they put the brakes on the idea.

The House cast a voice vote that appeared to be near-unanimous to send the idea for study, but the original language in the bill is still alive. 

The bill would provide funding for school resource officers who would work with local law enforcement officers, study their schools' security situations and put together security plans.

Lawmakers who have been bitterly divided over the past week about designating principals, math teachers or volunteer parents to carry guns surreptitiously to respond to a possible Sandy Hook-type situation seemed visibly relieved to be able to put that idea off for a year.

"When you're dealing with things that can do good and bad both, you need to weigh carefully what those unintended consequences are," said Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso. "We all want to do what's right and we all want to protect our kids, but we don't want to hurt someone with unintended consequences. So the right thing to do is study it thoroughly."

Speaker Brian Bosma, who just returned from a week-long surgical absence, also seemed relieved to have the divisive issue out of the way, at least for now.

"Well, I think there were a lot of questions about it, and rightly so. It's a big policy step," Bosma said. "And while it's a policy step many of us think might be something good to look at, it did need further review."

But the issue isn't necessarily settled. Earlier Thursday, Republican Senate leader David Long expressed skepticism about letting the issue wait a year, asking what if something bad happens while this is being studied. 

Long issued a statement Thursday afternoon saying there is more work to do.

The bill must now go to a House-Senate conference committee to approve the latest change.

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