State educators react to a bill that would allow teachers to carry guns on campus

HB 37 was amended to include the proposal
Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 6:46 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 3, 2022 at 6:05 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Some Louisiana lawmakers want to give school districts the ability to arm willing teachers and administrators following the Texas school massacre.

But many teachers in the state object to the idea.

Lauren Jewett is an elementary special education teacher and is a member of the United Teachers of New Orleans, also called UTNO.

“This is an emotional topic as an elementary teacher myself I’d seen, you know, the thing that happened in Texas like that hit me hard because I am a teacher that works with students of that age,” Jewett said of the mass shooting at the Texas school.

House Bill 37 which was almost through the legislative process was amended this week as the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee debated it.

Sen. Eddie Lambert, R-Gonzales, sponsored the amendment which gutted the bill.

“And the schools may designate one or more school teachers or administrators as a school protection officer, they don’t have to do it, it allows them to do it and that person would be authorized to carry a concealed weapon on the school grounds in the district. And the purpose of this is to prevent something like we had in Uvalde or some of these other schools,” Lambert said.

The amendment says school personnel would have to have the weapon in their personal control the entire time the weapon is on campus.

Jewett is not in favor of arming teachers and principals.

“I feel like a little bit of this addition to the bill at the last minute is maybe in response to people’s push for more action, but I have a lot of concerns about it because it’s not being properly vetted,” said Jewett.

She said teachers are already overburdened.

“That’s adding another responsibility to teachers that are already overworked, already over-burdened because teachers do not just teach. We are under-staffed at our schools, we are under-resourced,” Jewett stated.

The amendment passed on a vote of 8 to 2. That amendment basically cancels out the original bill that seeks to allow people in Louisiana to carry firearms without first getting training and a state permit.

Senator Jay Morris, R- West Monroe asked Lambert about how the changes in the bill would affect HB 37.

“Senator Lambert, this bill, I mean this amendment eliminates basically the permitless carry portion of the bill? asked Morris.

Lambert replied, “It pretty much, yes it does.”

Under the amendment, the carrying of guns by school staff would be voluntary and they would have to be pre-certified.

Jewett says teachers do not need more responsibility.

“It’s not communicating, you know, respect to our teachers for everything that they do. So, I have a lot of concerns about adding additional responsibility to teachers, adding potential liability to teachers,” she said.

And there was pushback during the senate panel meeting.

“As a teacher, like all of my colleagues I’m particularly worried about guns in schools,” said Ashley Ayer, also a teacher.

Jewett says arming school staff could hurt campus relationships.

“Students come to teachers when they’re in seek of advice when they have a problem and I think that would be a barrier to students. Students may not even want to come to talk to a teacher if they know that, you know, there’s a firearm there. They might not want to talk to a principal if they know that, that’s something that they have. I think it could really damage trust in a school building,” she said.

The legislative session ends on Monday.

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