Lt. Governor Burt Jones is encouraging teachers to bring guns to school. On Wednesday, Oct. 25 Jones unveiled a plan to provide a $10,000 annual stipend for teachers to carry guns in schools and and would reward them with compensation to come to class armed after completing a firearms safety program.
Georgia law already allows teachers and school staff to carry concealed firearms in schools with the approval of school officials.
Jones contends that the spate of school shootings across the country have caused him such grave concern that he feels the measure is necessary to “protect the most vulnerable,” he said at a Barrow County elementary school.
“It’s sad, but it is the sign of the times that we have to go to these lengths to protect our children, but it’s just where we are,” said Jones, who ironically characterized the guns in schools proposal as a response to mass shootings at schools. Jones has not supported stricter gun carry laws in the state though.
The Georgia Safe Carry Protection Act, also known as the “guns everywhere” law, was passed in 2014. This law allows local school districts to decide whether to allow certain school personnel, including teachers and administrators, to carry concealed firearms on school premises. However, it is not a statewide requirement, and individual school districts have the authority to determine their policies on this matter.
Still critics and parents worry that the measure would cause more harm than good, as violence in classrooms continues to proliferate and introducing a gun to the equation could be tragic.
“We are not law enforcement personnel and should not be seen in those roles,” said Lisa Morgan, president of the Georgia Association of Educators, one of the state’s largest teacher advocacy groups.
But the plan to arm teachers has remained controversial. While some believe that it could help to lower the chances of shootings at schools, opponents believe that it could lead to more violence.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals and the National Association of Elementary School Principals, have said only police officers should carry guns on school grounds.