Teachers at schools in Mississippi may soon be able to be armed in classrooms with the passing of the Mississippi School Protection Act, or Senate Bill 2079.
The bill, which allows school districts to opt into a program that grants volunteering staff members the opportunity to become certified to possess a gun on school grounds, was sent to the desk of Governor Tate Reeves on Monday for approval.
According to Mississippi Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell, the program aims to increase security at schools that cannot afford school resource officers to work on campus every day.
“School resource officers are the best option, but I don’t know how practical it is to have a law enforcement officer at every single school in the state,” Tindell said. “Some don’t have the finances to do that.”
Tindell said that teachers will be required to attend a two to three-week training session where they will be educated on tactics related to gun safety and proper interaction with the police if a crisis happened to occur. Training would be conducted at the Mississippi Law Enforcement Officer Training Academy in Pearl and led by multiple law enforcement agencies in collaboration with one another.
“If they want to make this decision, we want to make sure that the teachers that are authorized to do it have proper training not only in firearms and self-defense but also communications with law enforcement and that we set up plans so that we can respond,” Tindell explained. “Like what you saw in Nashville, where there was a really quick and good response.”
Over one week ago, three children and three adults were killed during a school shooting at Covenant School in Nashville, Tenn. Police responded to the incident within 14 minutes before shooting the suspect, 28-year-old Audrey Hale.
Tindell added that the shooting in Nashville is one reason why lawmakers have pressed for teachers to have the right to have firearms in classrooms as long as they are properly certified.
“Even though that was a really good response on a handful of law enforcement officers, there were still lives lost and we’ve just got to do a better job to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Tindell said.
Reeves has until April 20 to sign SB 2079 into law.