The Legislature is on the verge of passing legislation that would dangerously lower minimum standards for people to carry guns in public schools.
Current law requires school employees who carry guns to either have law enforcement or armed security guard certifications. That’s a high standard but not impossible to meet. Oklahoma City’s KWTV surveyed state school superintendents last year and found at least 22 districts had armed teachers under the law.
We’re concerned that the training involved for those licenses isn’t specific to school settings, but the correct response to that issue isn’t making the rules laxer, which is what House Bill 2236 would do. As amended and passed Wednesday by the state Senate, HB 2236 would allow the arming of school personnel who have merely taken handgun permit classes, which are often perfunctory in nature.
The Senate amendment would also require local police departments to have annual training for armed school personnel. That’s not a bad idea, but it hardly solves the problem. Local training would only be as good as local law enforcement makes it. The law sets no state standards for what should be covered and in what manner. It could last two minutes or two hours. It might require school personnel to show an ability to use a gun safely, or it might not. It might be led by an expert in school security or Deputy Fife.
Arming teachers is not a good solution to school security concerns. Teachers are teachers; they aren’t police officers. A gun in a classroom is a deadly mistake waiting to happen. For a handful of schools that are isolated from law enforcement personnel, guns in schools might be worthy of consideration, but only with close oversight and sufficient training to make sure the situation is as safe as the state can make it.