SD House panel delays vote on arming teachers - KOTA Territory News

SD House panel delays vote on arming teachers

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Wednesday, legislators discussed a bill that involves two of the most emotionally-charged topics in our country: the safety of children and firearms.  If passed, House Bill 1087 would  allow staff and volunteers in South Dakota schools to carry guns.  The bill is generating so much conversation, that Wednesday's hearing was continued to Friday, but not before both proponents and opponents laid out their arguments.

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If passed, staff at your child's school may be packing next year. Those in favor of the bill say it could help keep kids safe, particularly students who attend school in rural communities. "We're a little more vulnerable because it's a long way to any law enforcement," District 28B Republican Representative Betty Olson said.

Regardless of whether you are for or against arming staff at schools, proponents say the decision should be up to individual school boards.  "This gives school boards the power to decide never to have an armed presence or to have an armed presence," District 33 Republican Representative Scott Craig said.

People who oppose the legislation say that's not the issue.  "The question is not should we give school boards local control - that's not the question," said Wade Pogony, Executive Director, Associated Schools Boards of South Dakota. "The question is: is it acceptable to allow our teachers and administrators to carry firearms in a school with children?"

Others came forward with similar concerns. Many had concerns regarding the skills and training needed to use a firearm.  "A school filled with young people is an unforgiving environment where a miss would prove harmful," Lead/Deadwood School Board Vice President Orson Ward said.

Others call the bill an extreme response to a tragic incident.  "Does one incident, as tragic as it has been, necessitate the reaction in this bill," New Underwood Superintendent Jeff Mullette said.

Representative Craig says he began writing the bill before the Newtown, Connecticut shooting.

Other supporters of the bill include Rapid City Chief of Police Steve Allender, District 34 Senator Craig Tieszen (R) and House Speaker Brian Gosch (R).

A representative from the South Dakota Superintendents Association says a majority of the state's 825 administrators and 145 superintendents are opposed to the bill.

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