Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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June 28, 2014

Ga. schools resist arming teachers despite new law

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia school leaders are turning down a new option to arm teachers, arguing that it doesn’t make kids any safer and creates more problems than state lawmakers intended to solve.

A string of attacks at schools and colleges in California, Oregon and Washington state hasn’t swayed education officials who say bluntly that they don’t believe guns belong in schools.

“We could give (teachers) all the training in the world as to how to a shoot a gun, but knowing when to shoot poses a major problem,” said Steve Smith, superintendent of the Bibb County School District. “The folks we work with day in and day out don’t have that.”

The provision was part of a sweeping law expands where Georgians can legally carry guns. It takes effect July 1 and also includes bars and churches. GOP lawmakers pushed the bill through during an election year in the largely pro-gun state, giving each district the option of arming teachers or staff — but requiring them to set training standards. The provisions were similar to a program that drew no interest from South Dakota school districts, and education officials said no districts in Georgia are pursuing it so far either.

The new law pulled Georgia education leaders into a Second Amendment discussion they say they never wanted.

School officials were quick to express their support for people who legally carry guns. But they were wary at the idea of weapons inside school buildings, despite the recent attack by an Oregon teen who killed a student and then himself at a school and the one-man rampage that left seven people dead in a California college town.

At least two Georgia district boards have publicly agreed not to create a program. Nobody asked for the power to arm staff, said Mark Scott, superintendent of the Houston County School District. Board members in the district were more comfortable relying on police officers stationed in its middle and high schools and upgrading building security, he said.

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