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School shootings: In Nebraska, a proposal to arm teachers

A Nebraska state senator proposes allowing school districts to authorize teachers to carry concealed guns to deter school shootings. In 43 states bringing guns to K-12 schools is prohibited.

By Staff writer / January 19, 2011

Kyle Binning lights candles Thursday Jan 6, at a memorial outside Millard South High School in Omaha, Neb. The 17-year-old gunman who opened fire at his Nebraska high school, killing an assistant principal, had been removed from the school hours earlier for driving on its football field, police said.

Dave Weaver/AP

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A Nebraska lawmaker wants teachers to be able to carry concealed guns in school.

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The proposal follows a recent shooting in which an Omaha high school senior killed an assistant principal and wounded a principal before killing himself.

Each school district would set its own policy, with a two-thirds majority vote of the school board required to allow the weapons. Teachers or administrators would have to get a concealed handgun permit, which requires some training.

“If you have a kid come in to shoot a teacher ... or other kids, it’s best to have somebody that can take care of the situation,” says Nebraska State Sen. Mark Christensen, who submitted the legislation Tuesday. Allowing concealed weapons would also serve as a deterrent, he says.

US has lots of guns, but it's not alone

As shootings at schools and school board meetings crop up in the headlines, it’s not the first time people have gravitated toward the controversial idea that teachers should be able to defend themselves or their students when confronted by an attacker.

Such proposals have been considered in recent years in a number of states, including Arizona, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.

Forty-three states (plus the District of Columbia) explicitly prohibit people from bringing guns to K-12 schools, according to The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

In Texas, the Harrold Independent School District set up a concealed weapons policy in 2007, and it appears to be the only such district in the United States to allow guns in K-12 schools. With law enforcement in the rural county at least 30 minutes away, “we are our first responders,” says superintendent David Thweatt, who oversees the policy.

The Harrold policy requires extensive training and only allows bullets that shatter when they hit a hard surface, to cut down on ricochet and collateral damage.

Small rural schools can’t afford security guards, Mr. Thweatt says, so “to say that the only people who can protect themselves have to [have] a badge ... that’s just ludicrous. There are a lot of people who can act responsibly.”

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