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Expert Tells Kentucky Lawmakers Arming Teachers Could Be A ‘Disaster’

Flickr/Creative Commons/James Case

A school safety expert told state lawmakers Thursday there’s “no way” arming teachers would make schools safer in the wake of the mass shooting at Marshall County High School.

The Kentucky House and Senate Education committees held a special meeting on Thursday to discuss school safety issues, though no specific pieces of legislation were up for a vote.

President Trump, Gov. Matt Bevin and some Republican lawmakers in the General Assembly have called for allowing teachers to have access to guns on campus in order to defend students against school shooters.

Bill Modzeleski, who used to work with the U.S. Department of Education, told lawmakers that it could be a “disaster.”

“When you engage a person who on the other end also has another firearm, then all the rules are off,” Modzeleski said. “You’re no longer at a firing range. You’re there with somebody else and you make mistakes. And your aim goes off.”

After the shootings at Marshall County High School and Parkland High School in Florida, Bevin and Republican leaders of the legislature have said they won’t consider any gun control proposals.

Bevin told WKDZ Radio in Cadiz that he would consider a policy to arm teachers in case of active shooter situations.

“I am a supporter of considering having people who are armed inside of the school,” Bevin said. “People who have been highly and specifically trained, people who have gone through a battery of psychological and psychiatric tests to ensure they are ready and able to handle this type of situation the best they possibly can.”

Trent Lovett, the superintendent for Marshall County Schools, said he’s not in favor of letting teachers have guns on campus.

“My fear would be what if the teacher’s the one that loses it that day and then they have a weapon. Or they let the weapon get out and a student gets ahold of it, I’m not in favor of it,” Lovett said.

During the committee hearing, Modzeleski said that local communities need to find ways to engage with students and address mental health problems.

“Educators in and by themselves, as teachers, as principals and superintendents are not going to do it,” Modzeleski said. “This is something that’s going to require the entire community.”

Earlier on Thursday, another legislative committee passed a resolution urging local school boards to allow teachers and other school staff to carry guns on campus if they are properly trained.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. He's covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Texas. He grew up in Lexington.

Email Ryland at
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