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Senate passes bill that looks to arm teachers

Schools in Mississippi could offer firearm training to staff and strengthen campus security under a bill passed by the Senate.

The plan, which is part of House Bill 1083, was proposed by Sen. Briggs Hopson of Vicksburg. The bill would apply to public and private schools, as well as universities and community and junior colleges. The bill heads to the House for consideration.

“This bill provides our school leaders with another way to beef up security at their campuses in a responsible manner,” said Lt. Governor Tate Reeves. “Coupled with the MCOPS program we passed several years ago, this is another tool to keep our children safe in the classroom.”

The bill allows school leaders the option to seek proper emergency response training through an approved course by the Department of Public Safety. Staff members could provide immediate protection before law enforcement arrives on campus.

Governor Phil Bryant said that only individuals who have been trained and are comfortable being armed in a classroom should go through the training.

“The only way you can stop someone with a weapon in a live fire situation is with another weapon,” Bryant said. “You are not going to be able to shout him down, you are not going to be able to spray him. You have to have a live weapon to be able to do that. We are not going to stand by and see someone come into schools and begin to murder children without having some protection.”

The effort is an expansion of the Mississippi Community Oriented Policing Services program, which passed in 2013. That program matched local funds to place more trained officers in public schools around the state.

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