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Measure arms teachers with guns
Members of the Glynn County Board of Education say arming classroom teachers with guns is a bad idea.

Schools in Georgia could allow teachers to carry firearms while others with licenses could take their guns into houses of worship, more bars and government offices under a plan adopted Tuesday by lawmakers in the Georgia House of Representatives. The measure, passed by a vote of 119-56 and now goes to the Senate.

"I think it's a very bad idea," said Glynn County Board of Education member Millard Allen.

He has his reasons for thinking that way.

"First, most teachers are not trained in firearms and some just don't want to be," Allen said. "Second, I can just envision a gun being left in a desk or at a work space and a child finding it, accidentally shooting him or herself or others.

"I don't think guns belong in the hands of folks other than authorized law enforcement or trained individuals."

Allen points to the recent decision to equip school resource officers in Glynn County with Tasers, which fire electric prongs capable of stunning a person. He said support and likely any outside support comes from the fact the officers will be highly trained in stun gun protocol and usage.

Glynn County School Board member John Madala agreed.

"Let's get over Tasers first and analyze that situation," Madala said. "There might be some districts (where arming teachers with guns) would be OK, but I don't think I'm ready for it. I'm a little worried about that."

Republican state lawmakers, who are in the majority in the House and in the Senate, are facing pressure from vocal gun rights groups after a similar effort to arm teachers failed last year. Under the plan, school administrators could allow their teachers or other employees to carry guns on the job.

Allen and Madala are both Republicans.

Supporters of the plan have said arming school officials would deter attacks on schools, though opponents have said putting more guns in schools increases the danger to everyone.

The bill also would reduce the penalties for carrying guns on college campuses and in airport security checkpoints.

It will next be considered by state senators, who have proven to be more reluctant to expand where people can legally take firearms.

"Gun free zones that are created by well-meaning laws are gun-free to the good guys only. The bad part of our society does not care," said state Rep. Rick Jasperse, R-Jasper, the bill's sponsor. "This should not prevent law-abiding Georgians from defending themselves."

State Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway, criticized the bill as a Republican attempt to excite the party's voting base ahead of this year's elections. He said the state government should pay for more police officers if the goal is to better secure schools.

"Call this bill what it is: This is a voter mobilization bill. It ain't got nothing to do with gun control," Williams said. "... Y'all, you're going raise more money than we're gonna raise anyhow. Why do you want to pile on? C'mon."

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