clear
Wednesday February 10th, 2016 5:06PM

Ga. schools resist arming teachers despite new law

By The Associated Press
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.<br /> <br /> 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.<br /> <br /> "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."<br /> <br /> 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.<br /> <br /> The new law pulled Georgia education leaders into a Second Amendment discussion they say they never wanted.<br /> <br /> 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.<br /> <br /> 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.<br /> <br /> "The risk far outweighed the benefit," Scott said.<br /> <br /> Even in conservative Fannin County, proud of its hunting and gun culture, school officials haven't embraced the plan. School Superintendent Mark Henson said officials haven't had any conversations about arming teachers, but will ultimately listen to what the community wants.<br /> <br /> "This is one we will wring our hands over," Henson said.<br /> <br /> Georgia isn't the first state to respond to school violence by allowing staff to carry guns. After 20 children and 6 adults died during a 2012 elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, at least nine states passed bills in 2013 authorizing armed school personnel, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Other states had similar programs in place before that shooting. In 2014, at least 14 more states including Georgia introduced similar bills.<br /> <br /> Rep. Alan Powell, a Hartwell Republican who chairs the Georgia House of Representatives' committee on public safety, said lawmakers intentionally left the decision to school boards. He argued that weapon-free zones are targets.<br /> <br /> "You can't control what bad people do," Powell said. "You can only guarantee people their constitutional right to protect themselves."<br /> <br /> The concept isn't irrational, but it's only appropriate for schools that are located far away from a responding law enforcement agency, said Mike Dorn, executive director of the school safety center Safe Havens International.<br /> <br /> Dorn said far more often schools face smaller threats than a lone shooter intent on killing many- a student with disabilities who gets hold of a screw driver or a desperate parent caught in a custody battle.<br /> <br /> "Everyone's so focused on the last event, picturing a 30 or 40-year-old brandishing an AK-47," Dorn said.<br /> <br /> Georgia districts don't have to do anything - creating a program is optional under the new law. Rep. Paul Battles, a Cartersville Republican who has backed the concept since 2012, said he's not disappointed that districts aren't using it, but local officials should consider the option if they can't afford police officers in schools.<br /> <br /> Gov. Nathan Deal's spokesman Brian Robinson said districts' reluctance to embrace the gun option was `'a great example of how the law maintained local control while expanding choices for how best to keep students safe."<br /> <br /> Officials involved in district-level conversations said it's unlikely that any board will volunteer as a test case. Phillip Hartley, an attorney who works with the Georgia Schools Boards Association and dozens of local boards, talked a room of board members through the issue at a recent conference and felt a "reluctance to be the first" without a serious push from parents.<br /> <br /> "There just hasn't been that kind of groundswell," Hartley said.<br />
© Copyright 2016 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 1 year ago )
High court to adopt electronic filing of cases
The Supreme Court is belatedly developing an electronic filing system similar to those used in courts around the country, Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday in his annual end-of-year report.
7:57PM ( 1 year ago )
Storm brings snow, cold to West for New Year's
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
5:19PM ( 1 year ago )
U.S. News
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 1 year ago )
Hall County conviction, sentencing to be reviewed by SCOGA
The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a Hall County man when they reconvene in January.
2:37PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
Committee leaves transportation funding to lawmakers
Georgia will have to cover a $1 billion to $1.5 billion transportation funding gap to stay economically competitive, a committee of lawmakers is warning in a report issued Tuesday.
5:36AM ( 1 year ago )
US off war footing at year's end, but wars go on
Taking America off a permanent war footing is proving harder than President Barack Obama may have suggested.
6:13PM ( 1 year ago )
GOP leader regrets talk to white supremacists; party leaders rally around him
House Republican leaders rallied around one of their own, Whip Steve Scalise, on Tuesday after he said he regrets speaking 12 years ago to a white supremacist organization and condemns the views of such groups.
6:08PM ( 1 year ago )
Politics
People familiar with his plans tell The Associated Press that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is expected to end his campaign for the Republican nomination for president
NASHUA, N.H. (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is expected to end his campaign for the Republican nomination for president after a disappointing sixth-place finish in New Hampshire's primary, two...
3:57PM ( 1 hour ago )
Fiorina ends 2016 Republican bid for president
Former technology executive Carly Fiorina exited the 2016 Republican presidential race Wednesday, after winning praise for her debate prowess but struggling to build a winning coalition in a crowded GOP field.
3:32PM ( 1 hour ago )
Man faces 30 counts of animal cruelty in Forsyth County
A Forsyth County man faces multiple animal cruelty charges after authorities removed several dogs from a residence in the western part of the county earlier this month.
10:50AM ( 6 hours ago )
UPDATE: Mother, 2 daughters killed in Gwinnett County house fire
Authorities said a mother and her two young daughters have died in a house fire in Tucker.
By Associated Press
9:00AM ( 8 hours ago )
Forecasters extend winter weather advisory for north Georgia
Forecasters are extending a winter weather advisory for much of north Georgia over concerns about black ice forming on roads as light snow showers continued in the region.
By Associated Press
6:00AM ( 11 hours ago )