Arming Arizona's teachers: Who could conceal, carry under proposed state law?
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
CREATED Mar. 19, 2013
Reporter: Kevin Keen
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Keeping our students safe by arming teachers with handguns. That's the basic idea behind a proposed state law that's moving forward at the capital. If passed, it would change state law. What would that mean for teachers, students and families in Southeastern Arizona? KGUN9 News found few of them would be affected.
Senate Bill 1325 would let certain teachers and school staff in rural areas carry a "concealed handgun, pistol or revolver” at work.
On a party-line vote, Senate Republicans voted Wednesday to approve the measure.
In order to participate, according to the proposal, the employee's school would need to have fewer than 600 students. The "closest law enforcement facility" would need to be at least 30 minutes and 20 miles away. Also, the school couldn't have a resource officer.
The school board would need to evaluate and approve any employee considering carrying, and that employee would need to complete training. There are other requirements.
“Do think some school districts would consider that option?” KGUN9 reporter Kevin Keen asked Bill Blong, executive director of the Arizona Rural Schools Association.
“I think so,” Blong said over the phone. “You have school districts that are out in the middle of nowhere in the state of Arizona, as we know.”
Blong personally opposes the bill but said, “I can see where if you have to rely on the local law enforcement agency -- they would not be there in a timely fashion.”
Which schools in Southeastern Arizona meet the bill's requirements? Just how many students would this effect?
Staff said the bill’s sole author, State Senator Rich Crandall, wasn't available to answer questions Tuesday. Staff also did not have a list or map of specific eligible or potentially eligible schools.
KGUN9 called about two dozen rural districts throughout Southeastern Arizona, asking if they have schools that would qualify.
The news team found most small town schools had a police or sheriff's department station down the street so those schools wouldn't be eligible.
KGUN9 found three elementary schools that met the requirements. They’re in Cochise, Pearce and Portal.
KGUN9’s search was not exhaustive and some districts said they were sure -- but not certain -- their schools would not meet the current requirements.
Blong said there are more schools concentrated in the northern part of the state that would be affected.
Lawmakers had amended the original bill by adding a part that applies to retired police officers who work at schools. That section would let those trained officers also carry handguns.
The bill next heads to the House.