The proposal to allow trained Oklahoma public school teachers to bring handguns to schools, which misfired earlier this session, has new life. But it may be short-lived.
A week after the governor signed four bills into law recommended by a special panel as a way to keep students safe, the House of Representatives approved an amendment Thursday that contained the text of House Bill 1062, which called for the arming of qualified teachers or administrators.
HB 1062 passed the House last month, but the chairman of a Senate committee decided not to give it a hearing.
Rep. Mark McCullough, R-Sapulpa, author of HB 1062, said he revived his measure because of requests from parents and teachers wanting some sort of response to a violent situation in schools.
He attached the amendment to Senate Bill 408, which would allow the director of the Council of Law Enforcement and Education Training to waive training requirements of certified law officers wanting to return to full-time active status.
Rep. Ben Sherrer, D-Choteau, said McCullough's move was “a symbolic punch in the lieutenant governor's gut,” referring to Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, who headed the Oklahoma School Security Commission which came up with the recommendations for school security.
He also called it the “ultimate spineless act by dumping this down on your local school board to have to make this very serious decision on this very serious issue.”
McCullough said he was not being disrespectful to Lamb, who was unavailable for comment Thursday.
“I wanted to give this another try,” he said. “I am telling you I have gotten a tremendous positive response by a lot of parents, teachers and administrators.”
Sen. Susan Paddack, author of SB 408, said she didn't support McCullough's amendment.
“I support having armed safety officers in our schools, but I do not support making our educators have to also become law enforcement officers,” said Paddack, D-Ada. “At this point I do not think that this language will be successful on the Senate side when it comes back over and we are given the opportunity to review and vote on it.”
The House voted 47-24 to adopt McCullough's amendment and voted 59-26 to adopt another amendment that would make the measure take effect immediately. McCullough said that was important so school teachers could get the firearms training this summer so they would be trained by the time classes start.
The House voted 69-25 to pass SB 408.
The measure heads to the Senate, where Paddack could seek to reject McCullough's amendment. If that occurs, the measure likely would go to a conference committee.
I wanted to give this another try. I am telling you I have gotten a tremendous positive response by a lot of parents, teachers and administrators.”
Rep. Mark McCullough,
R-Sapulpa, author of HB 1062