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Senate amendment could arm Mississippi teachers

The nation continues to grieve after the shooting in Parkland last week, and leaders continue to look for ways to prevent another tragedy from occurring. The Mississippi legislature has taken a step toward implementing another safety measure in schools across the state.

HB 1083 was passed through the House earlier this month and was aimed at creating a system to ensure those with an enhanced concealed carry permit could bring their firearms into schools, athletic events, government proceedings and other gun-restrictive areas.

While being debated in the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Briggs Hopson introduced a proposal that “allows school leaders the option to seek proper emergency response training through an approved course by the Department of Public Safety,” according to a media release from Lt. Governor Tate Reeves.

Teachers and school leaders would be asked to complete the necessary training, and Reeves says that this could help prevent shootings at Mississippi Schools.

“The safety of our students while in the classroom should never be in question, but that is not a given in today’s schools, unfortunately,” Lt. Gov. Reeves said. “By allowing more school staff to receive proper training on how to respond to immediate threats, I hope we can avoid the tragedies we’ve seen on campuses around the country and in Mississippi.”

Since the events in Parkland, there have been several threats at schools across the state, but none have been deemed credible. Reeves went on to say if teachers receive this training they could provide “immediate protection” before law enforcement arrives at the school in an active shooter situation.

In a series of tweets, President Trump has alluded to a similar solution for a portion of teachers across the country.

The plan would apply to public and private schools, as well as universities and community and junior colleges. Also amended by the Senate was the ability for universities to continue to adopt their own policies when it comes to guns at athletic events on their campuses. This portion of the original bill brought strong opposition from university presidents, athletic directors, and even the SEC commissioner, Greg Sankey. After the bill passed through the House, MSU AD John Cohen said that firearms could create an unsafe atmosphere at these events.

“Our concern is that if you introduce certain elements to that emotion, in some ways it could stop us from making this as safe of an environment as it needs to be,” Cohen said. “That’s what we wake up in the morning thinking about, and that’s what we go to sleep at night thinking about; protecting our student-athletes, the fans, the opposing teams, the officials, that’s our responsibility, and we don’t take that lightly.”

Sankey released a letter stating that scheduling for Ole Miss and MSU could be affected due to safety concerns from opposing teams and referees. Author of the bill, Rep. Andy Gipson has continued to say that he is fighting for the 2nd amendment rights of Mississippians.

“I’m not going to offer to rollback our second amendment rights, I took an oath to uphold these rights,” Gipson said.

Now that the bill has passed out of committee, it will be debated on the Senate floor.

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