House panel OKs armed schools

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal Jackson Bureau

JACKSON – School districts would be able to arm employees under legislation passed Monday in the House Education Committee.
The legislation originally was filed by Rep. Lester “Bubba” Carpenter, R-Burnsville, in response to the December school shooting in Newtown, Conn. It would allow school districts to designate certain employees to be armed.
House Education Committee Chairman John Moore, R-Brandon, said that in an emergency situation like the one in Newtown, a number of people could be killed before law enforcement had time to respond to a call for help.
“Time results in dead bodies,” he said. “This is just a way to allow school districts the chance to protect themselves.”
He termed the designated employees “a secret armed marshal force.”
Moore said it would be up to a local school district to decide whether to arm members of its staff. The people who would be armed would go through training administered by the Department of Public Safety.
Under current law, people who have the standard concealed carry permits in the state are not allowed to carry firearms on school campuses.
“We are trying to keep our children safe,” Moore said.
Carpenter said he likes the legislation because not all school districts can afford to place an armed law enforcement officer in the schools.
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves has proposed providing state funds to help with putting armed law enforcement in schools. Carpenter said he would support that, but he feared that many school districts can’t afford the matching funds to draw down state funds that might be available.
“They are starving for money now,” Carpenter said.
bobby.harrison@journalinc.com