Tennessee Education Association OK with Arming Teachers as Last Resort

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.

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