10:02 am
Tue February 5, 2013

Tennessee Education Association OK with Arming Teachers as Last Resort

Credit File photo

The largest teachers union in Tennessee  is quietly on board with allowing educators to carry a weapon to class—at least as a last resort.

The Tennessee Education Association is supporting a bill under consideration by the state legislature, but the union would prefer teachers not need to bring a gun to school, President Gera Summerford said. 

“I think the way we would look at it is, it’s the responsibility of law enforcement-trained personnel," Summerford.

But the TEA also wants a school resource officer in every school. So the organization has signed onto a bill from state Sen. Frank Niceley that would mandate it. If there’s no money for a uniformed officer, the legislation allows an administrator or faculty member to be trained.

As long as no teacher is forced to carry a weapon, the teachers union says they’re in support.

But there’s been bi-partisan resistance to arming teachers at all. House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh says he worries about a gun getting into the wrong hands.

“The kind of student I’d be tries to go and have a look at the weapon or something worse than that. I can just see all kinds of problems with teachers going armed," Fitzhugh said.

Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, has also expressed misgivings, saying he doesn’t know many teachers who would want to carry a gun.