Following on a national trend that began after the Sandy Hook shooting, a handful of California legislators would like to find a way to arm teachers.
But for the most part, teacher representatives are shooting down the idea.
Tim Donnelly, R-San Bernardino, introduced a bill last week that would allow school employees to carry concealed weapons on campus. Dubbed the School Marshall Program, AB 202 would allow school districts to use money from the general fund to train teachers and janitors to become qualified to carry a concealed weapon on campus.
"It'll put an invisible line of protection," Donnelly said at a news conference. "Nobody would know who carries. The law prohibits public disclosure of anyone who's designated as a school marshall."
California's proposal is the latest in a slew of bills that would allow arming teachers. Similar legislation is being considered in Georgia, Washington, North Carolina and Mississippi.
The idea that bringing guns into schools would make them safer was first promulgated by the National Rifle Association, when its executive vice president Wayne LaPierre responded to the Sandy Hook massacre in December.
"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," LaPierre said in a news conference as he called on Congress to put armed police officers in every school in the country at taxpayers' expense.
The idea is not being received well by teachers. Wyoming senators on Friday killed a proposal that would have allowed people to carry concealed weapons in K-12 schools and college campuses, after dozens of educators, administrators, police and others testified it would make schools and colleges less safe.
Donnelly's proposal is being similarly received in California.
Dean Vogel, president of the California Teachers Association, said adding guns to a school would not make them safer.
"If you want to make a school safer, offer counseling services," he said by phone, explaining that it has been disturbed young men who've caused many of the school shootings.
"Our solution is to try to figure out the root causes of these horrific events. We're almost last in nurses, but the mental health of our students is almost as important as their academic progress," he said.
Reaction among school administrators has been similar.
"We are in the profession of educating our children, not providing security through arms," said Ralph Porras, superintendent of the Pacific Grove Unified School District. "Public schools are institutions of learning. ... Clearly, we must also provide a safe and secure environment, but that best comes through good planning, a strong and healthy school community and effective collaboration with law enforcement and safety officials."
California schools already make good use of police or resource officers, according to information think tank EdSource. A survey the organization conducted of about 300 school districts last summer found that
52 percent of the state's high schools, 16 percent of middle schools and
5 percent of elementary schools have police or resource officers. In high schools, 83 percent of those officers are armed.
"School resource police officers who are present on our campuses represent the collaboration with law enforcement and are a support to our purpose," Porras said. "We need to focus all of our resources on providing the best education for our students."
Claudia Meléndez Salinas can be reached at 753-6755 or firstname.lastname@example.org.