Oklahoma House panel passes measure allowing armed teachers

The bill would allow public school teachers and administrators to bring loaded handguns to their schools after they complete a law enforcement training course.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Modified: February 6, 2013 at 9:30 pm •  Published: February 7, 2013
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“We're going to have more accidental shootings,” he said.

Thompson said he also questioned whether a teacher would be able to shoot a student opening fire on other students.

“There's a high likelihood of the student being the shooter than somebody off the street,” he said.

Some committee members questioned whether one teacher would be able to respond adequately to a shooting; often law enforcement officers put together a team of officers to react to a mass shooting.

Tulsa County Undersheriff Tim Albin, whose agency has about 140 reserve officers, said deputies have no guarantee of having assistance when they respond to calls.

“If you're the one guy there and there's an active shooter, you know what — it's just a bad day for you,” Albin said. “You've got to go find the shooter and take down the threat.”

The measure is in the early stages of possibly becoming law. The House of Representatives Public Safety Committee voted 8-3 to pass the bill.

It now goes to the full House. If it passes the House, it still must be taken up and passed in the Senate before it would go to the governor.

Group still meeting

The Oklahoma Commission on School Security, which met for the second time this week, likely will meet four or five times before issuing its findings in March, still in time for recommendations to be written into proposed bills. Gov. Mary Fallin said last month she would reserve judgment on proposed legislation until she has the opportunity to see what the commission recommends.

The panel has members from various fields, including police, school and community leaders. No lawmakers are on the commission.

“Why jump the gun?” asked Rep. Pat Ownbey, R-Ardmore, a committee member. “Why not wait until after that task force?”

“Part of our job is to bring ideas, just to think these things through,” McCullough said.

“It is still my duty as a legislator to bring forward ideas that I feel would solve the problem.

“I didn't just roll out of bed and file this, I've been thinking about it a long, long time … the potential for terrorists or madmen to strike soft targets,” said McCullough, whose two boys go to a public school.

The measure could be amended later to include recommendations from the task force, he said.

Rep. Tommy Hardin, R-Madill, a committee member, said he is concerned that a trained teacher would leave his students vulnerable while leaving the classroom to respond to a shooting or other violent act.

“There's not a perfect solution,” McCullough said.

But administrators and teachers in the Connecticut shooting, he said, ran to the shootings “with nothing in their hands when that happened and they didn't stop him.”