A bill sponsored by State Rep. David Byrd (R-Waynesboro) that seeks to expand the authorization of an employee to carry concealed weapons on school property beyond distressed rural counties to the entire state, HB 2208, passed its first stop in the House, the Civil Justice Subcommittee on Wednesday by a vote of 5 to 2.
In the wake of the Parkland, Florida high school shooting, calls for allowing trained teachers and school employees to conceal carry, thereby enabling a more immediate life-saving response in the case of a shooter on what are currently “soft targets,” have come from multiple sources including the National Rifle Association and President Donald Trump.
Byrd, a teacher and coach for decades also served as a principal in Wayne County high schools for ten years before retiring and joining the Tennessee General Assembly in 2015, has now gained 44 House co-sponsors for the bill.
For three years, Byrd has been fighting to obtain funding of School Resource Officers (SROs) through a budget appropriation from the governor’s office. According to Byrd’s office, every school in Tennessee should have an SRO, but approximately 60 percent of students in Tennessee are currently not protected by SROs.
With an estimated average cost of $50,000 per year, distressed rural counties cannot afford such an expenditure. As such, Byrd introduced a bill that passed into law in 2016 permitting “the local board of education in a distressed rural county to adopt a policy allowing the director of schools, in consultation with the principal of each school, to authorize and select employees who may carry a concealed handgun within and on the grounds of the school to which the person is assigned.”
The bill summary for HB2208 states that the current law, TCA 49-6-816, is restricted to Wayne and Picket counties. HB2208 would extend the option to all schools boards throughout the state, and require an initial minimum 40 hours of “peace officers standards and training (POST)” instruction and 16 hours a year of continuing instruction, administered and taught by a local law enforcement agency or a private certified firearms instructor.
Recently announced candidate for the 57th House District, Aaron Shane, declared his support for the measure.
In his statement of support for the bill, Shane reiterates that protecting children is one of the main reasons for announcing his campaign, and “As the parent of two children,” Shane declares, “I believe this type of legislation is long overdue.” On his campaign website, Shane also refers to protecting children by supporting “any bill that will keep grown men out of little girls restrooms.”
Calling it “a common sense bill that will allow teachers to protect themselves and our children,” Shane pointed out the absurdity that “Many banks use armed security to protect our finances,” adding that “it is time we place the same value on the children of our community.”
Shane, understanding that not all teachers will want to carry, said that in addition to fully supporting this bill he would “take it one step further and have veterans as armed security at each school.”
Voting on the bill was along party lines, with those voting in favor Representatives Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah), Glen Casada (R-Franklin), Martin Daniel (R-Knoxville), Andrew Farmer (R-Sevierville), and Debra Moody (R-Covington) and against the bill Bill Beck (D-Nashville), and G. A. Hardaway (D-Memphis).
The bill will next be heard in the full House Civil Justice Committee on March 6. In the Senate, the bill has been referred to the Judiciary Committee but has not yet been assigned to the committee’s calendar.
Information on House Bill 2208 and companion Senate Bill 2563 can be found here.
The full text of Aaron Shane’s press release can be read here:
FOR IMMEDIATE PRESS RELEASE
Shane Takes Firm Stand on School Security
57th DISTRICT, TENN. (1, MARCH 2017)
Aaron Shane (Candidate for State Representative in District 57) announced today his support for HB2208, as well as, having trained armed security at each school. HB2208 is a bill sponsored by Representative David Byrd (R-Waynesboro) which will allow Law Enforcement officials to train staff in schools. This bill also authorizes private companies, which have the proper authorization, to be involved in the training of teachers.
“As the parent of two children I believe this type of legislation is long overdue. Many banks use armed security to protect our finances, it is time we place the same value on the children of our community. While I fully support this bill, I would take it one step further and have veterans as armed security at each school. I understand that not all teachers will want to carry, and that is why we must also have trained armed security” said Shane.
Shane later went on to say, “This is a common sense bill that will allow teachers to protect themselves and our children. The last thing we need is for our teachers and students to be sitting ducks. Until we have legislatures who are willing to do what is right and not listen to lobbyists and special interest groups we [are] leaving our children at risk. When elected, protecting our children will be at the front of my agenda.”
Shane is running for State Representative District 57 and cites the main reasons for announcing his campaign were: to help families who are struggling because of establishment politicians and special interest groups benefiting from back room deals while hurting the public, the gas tax, and to protect the children of our community. For more information on the Shane campaign, please visit: Shane4StateRep.com.