Don’t arm Missouri teachers

05/21/2014 5:31 PM

06/03/2014 10:17 AM

A gun bill passed by the Missouri General Assembly would open the door to teachers carrying concealed weapons in classrooms. It should go to the top of Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto list.

Among other problems, the bill would enable school districts to designate teachers or administrators as “school protection officers” authorized to carry a concealed firearm.

Arming teachers has been a gun advocates’ priority since a gunman on Dec. 14, 2012, killed 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Kansas legislators passed and Gov. Sam Brownback signed such a law in 2013.

But the risks of introducing guns into schools with hundreds of curious students far outweigh the remote possibility that a teacher could effectively deter an attack.

The Kansas law brought the threat of dropped insurance coverage for schools. Missouri schools can’t afford that or steep increases in liability coverage.

Under the Missouri legislation, a school board seeking school protection officers would hold public hearings but then could act behind closed doors. Teachers or administrators would apply to the superintendent, submit to a background check, show proof of a conceal carry permit and completion of a school protection officer training program. Parents would not have to be notified as to which teachers are carrying.

All of the proposed safeguards and training won’t mean an armed teacher would be in the right place at the right time to prevent gun violence.

The legislation also unnecessarily widens access to conceal carry permits, lowering the age limit from 21 to 19.

In addition, the bill prohibits health care workers from asking a patient whether he or she has access to a firearm, even if the person shows signs of mental illness. Like the age limit, that kind of restriction is moving in the wrong direction.

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