A bill that would allow a select number of teachers to carry guns on campuses across Tennessee passed its first hurdle in the legislature Wednesday, thrusting the state into the national debate about how best to protect students from school shootings.
Mothers, teachers and other gun control activists spoke in opposition to the bill, questioning the need and prudence of arming teachers instead of funding school resource officers — trained law enforcement stationed in schools.
But Reps. David Byrd, R-Waynesboro; Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah; and Andrew Farmer, R-Sevierville, pointed to the absence of funding for school resource officers across the state as the reason the bill is needed.
The measure passed the House Civil Justice Subcommittee 5-2, with committee Democrats Bill Beck of Nashville and G.A. Hardaway of Memphis voting no.
The proposal to arm teachers comes as another group of lawmakers unveiled a bipartisan proposal Wednesday that would allow volunteer law enforcement officers to work security at Tennessee public schools.