The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday night that would allow public school teachers or administrators who successfully complete a special school resource officer course to bring loaded handguns to school.
House Bill 1062 passed the House 68-23 and is headed to the Senate. The bill's author, Rep. Mike McCullough, R-Sapulpa, used a parliamentary procedure to hold onto the bill and to have the emergency vote brought up again. The emergency clause, which would make the bill take effect immediately if it is signed into law, failed. McCullough said the emergency clause is essential because it would allow teachers and administrators to take the training this summer before the start of classes.
“We are facing the reality that we could have active violent threats to our schools,” McCullough said.
HB 1062 is the first Oklahoma school security measure advanced by lawmakers since the Sandy Hook massacre in December. Twenty children, ages 6 and 7, and six adults were shot and killed by Adam Lanza, in Newtown, Conn.
Its passage in the House comes a week after the Oklahoma Commission on School Safety released its legislative recommendations, which include calling for a new security tip line, mental health training for campus workers and a new state institute to continue training, research and advocacy on the issue.
House Minority Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City, tried to get the recommendations included in HB 1062, but House members failed to adopt his amendment. Inman also tried to get language added to the bill that would have increased the amount of gun training for school officials.
Rep. Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma City, also was unsuccessful in getting amendments added to HB 1062 which would have provided vouchers to parents to send their children to private schools if they objected to having guns allowed in their public schools and would have made public schools provide cellphones in each grade in case of emergencies.
McCullough said school boards would pay for the cost of training; he is working to get $500,000 in state funds set aside to reimburse school boards. He estimates about 250 school teachers and administrators would volunteer to apply for the training in the first year the measure is in effect.
If the bill would become law and school boards approve the measure, the training would be voluntary for teachers and administrators.
HB 1062 would require three weeks of training to complete a special reserve school resource officer course. McCullough said the course is estimated to cost about $2,500 for each teacher or administrator. He said it's possible some law enforcement agencies wouldn't charge a fee or that a private individual or group would pay the cost of the training.
Rep. Steve Kouplen, D-Beggs, said guns in public schools should be the last option. He suggested bulletproof glass and other security issues should be tried first.
He also said lawmakers should appropriate more money to pay for the training.
“We always try to do it on the cheap,” he said.