A bill that would have allowed trained public school teachers to bring handguns to schools is being held back this year.
Sen. John Ford, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said Monday that his panel will not hear House Bill 1062 this session. The measure was the only piece of legislation remaining this year that would have allowed for arming public school teachers or administrators.
Ford, R-Bartlesville, said he preferred the recommendations from the Oklahoma Commission on School Safety, which was made up of experts from fields such as law enforcement, mental health and education, as well as parents and first responders. The commission, which did not have any legislators, was headed by Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, a former special agent with the U.S. Secret Service.
“A lot of outside presenters came in, and they looked at what they felt were the appropriate steps in Oklahoma that we needed to take for school security,” Ford said. “Weapons in schools — that was one of the issues they looked at, and it was not part of the recommendations.”
The commission was formed as a result of the Sandy Hook Elementary School gun massacre in December.
Twenty children, ages 6 and 7, and six adults were shot and killed by a disturbed man, Adam Lanza, in Newtown, Conn.
The commission's recommendations have been developed into four bills being taken up this year. Recommendations 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.
“Many of us feel that we ought to follow those recommendations because that was a group of experts and interested individuals that made those recommendations,” Ford said. “Let's follow their recommendations, and we can always change in the future if we need to.”
Rep. Mark McCullough, author of HB 1062, said he was disappointed by Ford's decision.
“By doing that, you're killing the only vehicle that would have actually done something to provide a security response in our schools,” said McCullough, R-Sapulpa. “And by doing that might be squelching the concern of many thousands of parents and hundreds of educators and administrators in our state.”
McCullough said his measure provided a quick response to an act of mass violence.
The House of Representatives last month voted 68-23 to pass HB 1062.