Nebraska discusses allowing schools to arm teachers

Published: Sep. 28, 2018 at 4:28 PM CDT
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The Nebraska Education Committee spent nearly five hours on Friday taking a deep dive into school safety.

The rise in school shootings across the nation prompted discussion, with one thought being to get more guns into schools.

The Education Committee met to consider whether teachers should be armed. The state would not mandate arming teachers, but it would become an issue of local control.

The state would give the school boards the ability to arm teachers.

It's just a study right now.

A few school districts supported the idea. The majority said they were against it.

"I don't think a good response to a problem is to add more of the problem to it. In this case, the problem is weapons. And, if we continue to arm people, we're going to have weapons and more risks. I think teachers are stressed out enough as it is," said Lisa Thurau with Strategies for Youth.

Maddie Fennell represents 28,000 people as the head of the Nebraska State Education Association.

"We've talked to a number of our members and surveyed our members, and overwhelmingly, they don't want to be armed or their colleagues to be armed," Fennell said.

Educators agreed.

"I need to be clear. I think this would be a grave mistake to make for Nebraska and our students," said Logan Lightfoot.

Lightfoot is superintendent for Anselmo-Merna School District.

Alan Ehlers represented Madison Public Schools at the capital.

"I can't cut two teachers from the high school and two teachers from the elementary school just so I can hire a school resource officer," he said.

Ehlers would like the option to arm administrators, since it's too expensive to have law enforcement patrol his school.

Longtime Sen. Ernie Chambers called the idea of arming teachers "insane."

"I know guns turn cowards into dangerous killers," Chambers said.

He said the problem is the easy access to guns.

Even the students had questions.

"I'm not really sure. I think it would be weird," said Josh Reed, a Boys Town student.

State Sen. Steve Halloran of Hastings is behind the proposal. The idea is not to arm teachers at the state level.

The legislature would allow the decisions to be made at the local level by school boards.