A state legislator has filed a bill that would allow teachers and school administrators to carry concealed firearms in schools if they have a valid concealed carry permit.
The bill has been filed by Representative Mike Kelley (R-Lamar).
State statute (571.107) says a concealed carry endorsement does not authorize its holder to carry a firearm into any higher education institution or K-12 school without the consent of its governing body, a school official or the district school board. The bill adds the words, “unless such a person is a teacher or school administrator.”
Missouri State Teachers Association spokesman Todd Fuller says that takes the issue out of the hands of local administrations.
“What it’s essentially saying is that one person, namely a teacher, an administrator, can make the determination for the entire district about whether they are going to have a policy that deals with gun control or allows for gun control. In reality and what we have always said is it usurps one of the basic tenants and fundamental tenants of what a district should be able to have, which is local control.”
Fuller says the conversation about gun policies, such as allowing teachers and administrators to carry them concealed, should happen within a district with its constituents and community.
Fuller also says the Association doesn’t have a policy on the idea of teachers carrying guns in school, largely because the question hasn’t been raised.
“We went to look at our resolutions on this particular issue and it’s an issue that our members have never had a specific opinion, as a body … our members make the determination on what our resolutions are going to be for the association.”
Kelley says the bill he filed is very simple, and he says that was on purpose so that the issue could be the subject of discussion and debate.
“I, myself, will be filing amendments to my own bill that will require that the teacher or administrator must keep the concealed weapon on their person. I’ve had people that expressed concern, ‘Well, what if they left it in their desk?’ Well, I would like to believe no teacher would ever make that kind of a mistake, but I do feel it would be in our best interest to put in those kinds of restrictions. I also have no problem requiring that all teachers tell their school administrator in charge of their building if they’re going to be carrying.”
Kelley also says he would not oppose requiring additional training for teachers or administrators who want to carry in school.
“An additional 8 hour class on top of the existing concealed carry class that would specialize in schoolroom situations. I would not be against it being required that the instructor must be a licensed police officer.”
The Director of the Center for Education Safety for the Missouri School Boards Association, Paul Fennewald, says the legislation will stir discussions that need to happen, and he says that’s a good thing.
“Public officials serving us need to think this through, have discussions on it looking at it from various perspectives and don’t jump to a snap decision just based on a crisis.”
Fennewald, says the level of training a person should have in order to carry a concealed weapon in a school should be considered.
“What level of training do we require, both the initial threshold to be able to concealed carry in a school and then what’s the requirement for continuing training and education. If you look at law enforcement there’s some pretty in-depth training that they go through, not only how to handle a weapon safely and make sure that you don’t miss your intended target and hit some innocent bystander but then also the process of making a decision in a split second concerning using deadly force, and there’s a requirement for law enforcement to continue to (take that training).”
Kelley says he had considered filing such a bill even before a shooting incident in Connecticut last week that left 28 people dead, 27 of them at a school. He says this bill is about protecting children, and emphasizes that he is flexible on what ideas would go into a final bill.
“This idea has actually been something I’ve talked with people over the last two years. Last year I pretty much came to the conclusion that I was going to file a bill similar to this one or this exact legislation … but I can tell you that it was one that was moved forward with the events that happened in Connecticut.”
Kelley says that shooting has a lot of people talking about gun control, and he doesn’t think that is the solution.
“Criminals don’t seem to care about law. It hasn’t stopped drugs, it hasn’t stopped drunk driving and I don’t think that it would stop crimes in school districts. They’re already in gun free zones and obviously they haven’t stopped at the sign and said, ‘Oh, I can’t have a gun here,’ and they leave.”
Currently some schools in Missouri have resource officers that are armed and are usually provided by the local police or sheriff’s department. Fennewald knows of no school districts that allow staff to carry concealed weapons.
A bill that would have allowed concealed firearms to be carried in schools and churches in Michigan was vetoed by that state’s governor today.
AUDIO: Mike Lear interviews Mike Kelley, 12:00