Gun advocates call out legislative leaders over arming teachers
Some Republican lawmakers and gun-rights advocates criticized GOP legislative leaders Tuesday for refusing to consider a bill allowing teachers to carry weapons in schools.Posted — Updated
House GOP leaders have said that the bill will not receive a committee hearing this session. Sponsor Rep. Larry Pittman, R-Cabarrus, said that's because House and Senate leaders have deemed the idea too controversial for an election year.
"That’s something we hear very often when they don’t want something to run – it’s too controversial," Pittman said at a news conference. "I always respond to that with the question, 'If you’re afraid of controversy, what are you doing in Raleigh?'
"We’re asking law-abiding citizens who know the value of self-defense to contact their legislators and insist that legislation of this sort be given a fair hearing," he continued, "so that our schoolchildren, teachers and other personnel do not have to be left defenseless in the face of an attack."
Rep. Michael Speciale, R-Craven, stressed that the program would be completely voluntary and that schools could choose to opt out.
"There’s absolutely nothing in this bill that mandates anything. It allows it," Speciale said. "Carrying [a gun] in the classroom, probably not a smart idea. But possibly putting it in a lockbox and having teachers who can access that box might be an option. How they work it out, how they do it should be up to the local school districts and not up to the state."
Paul Valone, head of gun-rights advocacy group Grass Roots North Carolina, said similar measures are already in place in 14 states.
"This is not a novel concept," Valone said.
Retired Catawba County teacher and Vietnam veteran Gene Fitzsimmons also spoke in favor of the bill.
"If I’m sitting there between the door, closed at the moment, and my students, and there’s somebody outside the door with a firearm that wants to kill them, I want to be armed," Fitzsimmons said. "I do not want to be like the football coach at Parkland (Fla.) who gave up his life just to shield his students momentarily before his students were gunned down."
"Once we get to the point where something is happening, somebody needs to be in that school to be able to stop it," Speciale said. "Somebody needs to be there to stop the carnage."
House K-12 Education Committee Chairman Craig Horn said he would be interested in learning more about that idea but has no interest in arming teachers across the board.
"Allowing folks to exercise their concealed carry rights inside a schoolhouse? I'm not in favor of that," said Horn, R-Union, who wasn't involved in the decision to block the bill.
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