Tennessee deliberations on arming teachers inside schools came to an end on 4-3-2018 as it was voted against in the education administration and planning committee. The bill would have given volunteer teachers the right to carry inside schools, though the number would have been limited one, armed teacher for every 75 students. Those for the bill argued that it was a cost-effective way to provide safety for students in the underserved rural counties across Tennessee. Those critical of the bill feared for schools saying that it didn’t go far enough to demonstrate student, teacher, and ultimately, the school’s safety. After a round of debate, it was ultimately voted against.
However, school safety is still on the minds of Tennessee legislature as the Tennessee senate voted to advance the senate bill to the General subcommittee of senate judiciary committee the same day with bipartisan support. The goal is to increase the number of sro officers inside schools by employing off-duty officers. SROs have long been the preferred method for offering safety to students, teachers, and staff inside schools with many counties having employed them for decades.
Byrd, supporter of the house bill, says that he also preferred SROs as the alternative to arming teachers, but says that these measures for more SROs rarely help or do anything for the rural communities.
Haslam continues to support school security having pledged another $30 million to expand school security programs which would almost fund the many rural schools who currently do not have SRO officers, but more is needed to ensure that all schools would have more officers for sufficient safety of everyone. The current pledged funding would likely provide for a minimum of two SRO officers across the state of Tennessee, especially for those who are currently without.
The SRO senate bill is headed to deliberations in the judiciary committee, but with bipartisan support, funding that is already set aside, a precedent of SROs already in place, and positive outlooks from those in the communities, there is a strong likelihood of passing.
On the student side, a recent bill was just passed in both the house and senate that allows elementary and high schools to have an elective course that teaches them about the history and science of firearms. These classes will be taught by professional instructors like those as USADefense. With the growth of this issue, there’s a lot bills on the docket for voting this year with more to be considered. For regular updates, talk with your local professionals or search on the TN legislation index.