Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced Monday he sent letters to all 520 public school superintendents in the state, opposing legislation that would allow teachers with concealed weapons permits to carry their weapon at school.
The bill for the 2013 legislative session was filed following the Newtown, CT shooting, which left 26 people, including 20 children, dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It is co-sponsored by House Republican leaders, including House Speaker Tim Jones and Majority Leader John Diehl.
Mehlville School District employs seven St. Louis County Police officers as school resource officers—one at each high school and middle school—to help protect teachers, students and school staff. Officers from the middle schools also each patrol two or three elementary schools in the district.
Funding for school resource officers costs the school district a little over $350,000 a year. The school district takes on about 75 percent of the financial burden, and the rest is picked up by the St. Louis County Police Department, said Brian Lane, assistant superintendent.
"I have serious concerns about recently introduced legislation that proposes not only to arm teachers, but to do so by taking away the authority of local school districts to keep guns out of classrooms," Nixon said. "More can and should be done to enhance school safety, but this legislation would put our children at risk and limit the ability of local school districts to keep their schools safe."
The Governor's letter does not address the National Rifle Association's proposal to post armed security at every school. However, Asa Hutchinson, the former Arkansas Congressman and Homeland Security official now leading the NRA's "School Shield" effort, told ABC's This Week program that he did not favor the idea of having teachers armed in schools.
"They go to educate these young people, Hutchinson told ABC's George Stephanopoulos. "They're not there to carry concealed weapons and provide that protection. They have to fulfill that role, and they do it very bravely sometimes, but I think it's much better to have a retired police officer or a retired military person who's been trained for sensitive environments that can provide the protection, an added level of security and other security measures, not just that. Let the teachers teach and let others protect," he said.
Creve Coeur State Rep. Jill Schupp, a Democrat told Patch she disagreed with the state proposal, while State Senator John Lamping, a Republican, said he believed the issue of gun control would likely be addressed at the federal level and not the state legislature.
Governor Nixon closed his letter to the superintendents saying he would "engage with Missourians to find common sense solutions to keep our schools safe.
SEE RELATED STORIES
- NRA Calls for Armed Guards in Schools; Mehlville Already Has Officers at High, Middle Schools
- School Gun-Free Zones 'Paint Big Targets'
- St. Louis County Police Chief Wants to Arm School Officials With Guns
- Tougher Gun Control Laws: Are They Inevitable Now?
- School Officials Reject Idea of Arming Teachers at Safety Meeting