New pushback, support for Indiana bill on teacher handgun training

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — New pushback and changes were made Wednesday to a controversial bill that would let the state pay for teachers to learn how to shoot a gun.

“It is assumed that in the blink of an eye, during an incredibly stressful, noisy, chaotic environment, that a teacher will be able to instantly transition from reading ‘The Cat in the Hat’ to becoming a skilled security force to take down someone,” said state Sen. Eddie Melton, a Democrat from Gary.

The House bill up for debate Wednesday by the Senate Committee on Education and Career Development would give Indiana school districts the option take part in state-paid handgun training for teachers. The bill passed the committee and now heads to the Senate floor for a vote. 

Democrats shot holes in the bill Wednesday. Sen. Mark Stoops, a Democrat from Bloomington, said, “This doesn’t need to move forward, and it shouldn’t move forward. I think all of us need to vote against it. My vote is ‘no.'”

It’s Republican state Rep. Jim Lucas‘ bill.

“The training was designed by the people at the law enforcement academy,” the Republican from Seymour said. “The people we trust to train our police officers. So, this is really a great in-depth program specifically designed for one situation and one situation only, and that’s an active-shooter scenario.”

Lawmakers voted in favor of an amendment by Republican Sen. Aaron Freeman, who represents southeast Marion County. The amendment would allow school districts, not individual teachers, to apply for the grant money to pay for the training.

“It, to me, doesn’t make sense that you would give the individual teacher to be able to ask,” Freeman said. “They should have to first get permisison from the school corporation, in my opinion.”

Another amendment that would have required school districts to tell parents if handgun training were to happen failed.

“I think every parent of a child in these schools must be notified that there will be a weapon in the school,” Stoops said. “It would give them a chance to explain the training teachers have to go through.” 

Terry Spradlin, executive director of the Indiana School Boards Association, weighed in on the discussion. The association is a nonprofit that aids school board members across the state. 

“If a board chooses to have this as a policy, that’s going to happen in an open, public forum,” Spradlin said. “With public-notice requirments to be satisfied, parents and community members will already have an opportunity to testify at those meetings.” 

Spradlin said the association supports the legislation.

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