Tara Martin | Web Editor-in-Chief
Indiana House Bill 1253 won’t hand your teacher a gun. Indiana House Bill 1253 won’t allow your teacher to carry a gun in school. Indiana House Bill 1253, if passed by legislature, would allocate state funding towards a standardized handgun training program for teachers and school staff across Indiana.
American history teacher Aron Bright testified in favor of the bill under the Education Committee at the Indiana State House on Feb. 11, 2019.
“I wanted it to be known that not every teacher is against it. This is a matter that has been important to me for my whole teaching career because it’s just very frustrating to see how the problem persists and it doesn’t get done,” Bright said. “All those against this particular bill or arming teachers in general, they don’t have a solution for how they’re going to make it stop once it starts.”
Indiana law allows teachers to carry firearms at school, but leaves the ultimate decision up to each individual school district. Currently, two school districts in the state arm teachers. Bright testified that standardized training would help school boards and superintendents make informed decisions about arming teachers.
“A school can’t possibly do a good job on their own of whipping up their own training program because they just don’t know how to do it,” Bright said. “It’d be like a school going out and drilling for oil.”
The proposed training, which would span 40 hours, would require teachers to undergo police-like handgun training on a strictly volunteer basis.
“It would be nice if teachers could just come in, teach their subject, teach their class, do their job and not have to worry about this,” Bright said. “But in the time I’ve been teaching, hundreds of people have been killed in this country in schools.”
Bright, who in the past was a member of the school safety committee at Avon High School, said that some Avon teachers do support carrying a firearm in school.
“Two years ago, there were 24 [teachers] interested,” Bright said. “We had a lockdown the day before Sandy Hook and when I was on the school safety committee at that time, I had 10 or 12 teachers inquire about it or want to do it.”
While Avon High School enlists multiple resource officers throughout the building, Bright said that with Avon’s large size and finite budget, more armed personnel are necessary.
“This wouldn’t be in place in of [resource officers], it would be in addition to that and according to the bill, we can train 45 teachers for the price of one resource officer,” Bright said.
Recently, Avon Community School Corporation has hired on a new mental wellness coordinator, a school safety coordinator, and emphasized the “see something, say something” policy. However, Bright said that the Parkland, FL. shooter had been unsuccessfully treated by mental health professionals for seven years.
“This is a last resort, when all else fails, what are we going to do to keep people alive?” Bright said.
Indiana House Bill 1253, passing 8 to 2, will now move on to a second reading in the House of Representatives. Bright testified for the bill in order to represent teachers who support arming school staff.
“Will it go forward? I hope so,” Bright said. “Even if it goes forward, it doesn’t mean Avon is going to arm teachers, doesn’t mean any school is going to because it’s going to be up to the local school board and superintendent to make that decision.”