Missouri Governor Vetoes Bill to Arm Teachers, Signs Bill to Replace Common Core

July 15, 2014

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed on Monday a bill that would have allowed teachers to carry guns in the classroom, saying that ““arming teachers will not make our schools safer.”

The bill, SB656, called for teachers to be allowed to become “school protection officers” after undergoing firearms training, if their local school board approved. But in his veto message, Nixon said that despite arguments that schools in rural areas, far away from first responders, might need help during a shooting situation, giving guns to teachers isn’t the right way to address the problem.

“I have consistently opposed the arming of teachers as a means to keep schools safe,” the governor said in his message. “It is simply the wrong approach, and one that I do not support…. I have supported, and will continue to support, the use of duly authorized law enforcement officers employed as school resources officers in schools. This bill, which would create a new mechanism for the arming of teachers, would not make schools safer.”

Other provisions in the bill would have barred a political subdivision from banning anyone with a valid concealed carry permit from the open carrying of a firearm. It also would have lowered the age for obtaining a concealed carry permit to 19 from the current 21.

In another school-related action, Nixon signed a bill, HB 1490, that directs Missouri officials to come up with their own version of state school standards, to replace the Common Core standards that have prompted controversy nationwide. Common Core will remain in effect while educator groups develop Missouri's standards.

Monday was the final day Nixon could act on bills passed by Missouri lawmakers this year.

The provision allowing classroom teachers to be armed was put into the gun bill by state Rep. Kevin Elmer, R-Nixa. When the bill passed, he emphasized that it gives local school boards discretion about whether they will allow teachers to be armed.

“The reason for it is to give schools another tool in their toolbox to provide security for their schools,” Elmer said.

But Otto Fajen, legislative director for the Missouri chapter of the National Education Association, said that if schools need additional protection, such as those in remote areas, they should rely on trained law enforcement professionals, not teachers.

““It raises profound concerns about safety,” he said about arming teachers, “in terms of people not knowing who’s armed. That can create some uncertainty.”

After the deadly shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., Nixon said in a letter to Missouri school superintendents:

“Putting loaded weapons in classrooms is quite simply the wrong approach to a serious issue that demands careful analysis and thoughtful solutions….

“Current law also allows local school boards to prohibit guns in their classrooms. This is a time-tested and solid foundation that we should reinforce, not undermine.”

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