February 5, 2013 10:05:07 AM
JACKSON -- Mississippi lawmakers may let two teachers or other employees per public school carry concealed weapons.
The House Education Committee passed the measure on a split voice vote Monday. The bill goes next to the House for more debate.
House Bill 988, written by Rep. Bubba Carpenter, R-Burnsville, would allow local school boards to vote on allowing two employees per school to carry guns.
"It allows a school district to set up their own marshal's service, a secret force within that school that's armed," House Education Committee Chairman John Moore, R-Brandon told reporters.
The bill is one response to the Newtown, Conn., school shooting in December that left 27 dead, including 20 children and the gunman who committed suicide. Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and others are pushing for grants that would subsidize the cost of police officers and sheriff's deputies in schools.
Under Carpenter's plan, any employee carrying a concealed weapon would have to pass a firearms safety course. That mirrors a 2011 state law allowing people, if they get training, to carry concealed guns into many places where they're otherwise banned, including college campuses and churches.
The Department of Public Safety lists about 130 approved trainers on its website.
Local school boards would have to pay for the training and cost of the permit.
Those who favor arming school employees point to the 1997 shooting at Mississippi's own Pearl High School.