Amended public school safety bill mandates armed protection officers

Apr 2, 2013

Changes made Tuesday to a school safety bill would require armed personnel in every Hoosier public school, and those personnel can now be teachers or administrators.

The original bill, as it passed the Senate, encouraged, but did not mandate, Indiana schools to hire school resource officers, trained law enforcement who receive additional training for the school environment.  A House committee Tuesday approved an amendment that creates a new position, school protection officer, and requires each school to have one. 

The school protection officer would be required to carry a gun but does not need to be a law enforcement officer.  Existing school staff including principals or teachers could become the school’s protection officer by going through training, though what that training involves is not specified in the bill. 

Seymour Republican Representative Jim Lucas, who authored the amendment, said he is trying to prevent tragedies like the Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech and Columbine shootings.

“The only defense against something like that is with a firearm,” said Lucas.

Gary Democrat Vernon Smith says Lucas’ argument has some validity, but he does not think teachers or principals should be the ones with the guns.

“I served as a principal for 20 years and I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to have possession of a gun,” said Smith.

The bill now heads for the House Ways and Means committee.