Community weighs in on teacher firearm training bill

NOW: Community weighs in on teacher firearm training bill

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- It’s been a little more than a year since 17 students and faculty members were killed in a mass shooting inside of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. 

The shooting sparked students all over the country to protest, even in Michiana. 

“Our school has been okay,” said Hannah Kline, a sophomore at Washington High School. “People have been upset about it but people are better.”

Kline said she fears what happened at the Florida high school in 2018 can still happen at Washington High School. She said she feels this way because it can happen to anybody.

“Anybody can just like switch up and change because they have gun in their pocket,” she said. “You don’t know what they can do with that.”

On Monday, the Indiana House of Representatives passed a bill which would allow funding for school corporations to train teachers who volunteer to be armed during school. There is already a law in place allowing school corporations to accept or deny teachers to carry a firearm inside schools. 

“We don’t think this is the best way to keep our students safe,” said Liz Digitali Anderson, president of the South Bend chapter of Moms Demand Action.

Digitali Anderson said members of her chapter were in Indianapolis when the vote took place. She said her members told her representatives heard testimony from lawyers, students, and teachers against the bill. 

Digitali Anderson said members felt unheard. 

“We don’t have to live like this,” she said. 

Newly elected South Bend Community School Corporation Trustee Ruth Warren said she thinks the bill is bad. She said local school boards will have the authority to accept or deny the funding. 

The South Bend Community School Corporation said the topic has been added to its next safety meeting agenda.

The Superintendent for Penn-Madison-Harris Community School Corporation was unavailable for comment at the time this story aired. 

The School City of Mishawaka did not respond to an interview request. 

“I think in this area there’s probably significant opposition to the law,” said Warren. 

Clarence Burks said he has several nephews in South Bend schools and opposes the bill. He said he’d rather see more school resource officers added to school buildings. 

“They’re there to teach,” he said. “They should let somebody else handle that job.”

Jesse Davis, who had children in Mishawaka schools, said he favors the bill. 

“I think if a teacher is responsible and they’ve got a permit to carry and they want to take proper training courses in order to do so I think we should go ahead and pass the bill,” said Davis. 

Davis said he doesn’t think law enforcement has the funds or man power to add extra officers inside of schools. 

St. Joseph County Sheriff Bill Redman sent the following statement: 

“I am against teachers being armed. I truly believe that’s our job in law enforcement to provide security in the schools.”

Kline said she would not like to see teachers carry a gun inside her school. This bill is now headed to the Indiana Senate to be voted on. 

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