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Armed teachers bill clears Oklahoma panel

By SEAN MURPHY Published: February 6, 2013
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — School districts across Oklahoma could allow teachers to bring firearms into their classrooms if they received reserve officer status under a bill approved Wednesday by a House panel.

The House Public Safety Committee voted 8-3 for the bill, which now heads to the full House for a vote, despite objections from school officials and concerns about the potential liability of bringing weapons into schools.

The bill by Rep. Mark McCullough gives individual districts the option of allowing school teachers or administrators to attend a basic police course academy for reserve deputies provided by the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training. The basic course provides about 240 hours of training on firearms, legal issues, traffic and custody of prisoners.

The measure would require individual school boards to approve the practice and be responsible for adopting policies regarding the carrying of weapons.

“Those that really feel strongly about it and want to go through six weeks of training on their own time, they're probably going to be the ones who would volunteer, and the districts are going to know who the best choices are,” said McCullough, R-Sapulpa.

Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel, whose office has about 200 reserve officers, estimated the cost to his department for training and equipment at about $3,000 per officer.

Oklahoma legislators introduced dozens of measures to expand gun rights in the wake of the December attack in which a gunman killed 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. A task force headed by Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, a former Secret Service agent, also has been established to make recommendations to the Legislature regarding school safety.

But McCullough said he already had been working on a comprehensive firearms measure and felt compelled to unveil it after the Connecticut shooting.

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