Bill to allow teachers to carry guns in the classroom - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

South Dakota lawmakers working on bill to allow teachers to carry guns in the classroom

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The National Rifle Association spoke out for the first time Friday in response to the shooting in Connecticut, calling for armed officers in every school in America and legislation that would allow teachers and other staff to carry guns in the classroom. 

"From armed security to building design and access control, to information technology, to student and teacher training. This multi-faceted program will be developed by the very best experts in field," said NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. 

In Sioux Falls, 15 School Resource Officers are already stationed inside High Schools and Middle Schools and also patrol the Elementary Schools. 

Some South Dakota State Legislators would like to take that one step further.  They are working on legislation that would allow any school staff member to carry a gun. 

"Right now every school in South Dakota is a gun free zone and a criminal knows he's not apt to be shot if he walks in there and starts killing people," said South Dakota State Representative Betty Olson. 

A teacher and parent herself, Representative Olson believes teachers should have the opportunity to protect themselves. 

"It's not a requirement that every teacher has to bring a gun, this would allow them to," said Olson. 

She and other state legislators are also trying to include proper training into that legislation. 

"Just because you have a gun and a permit doesn't mean you know how to protect yourself," said Olson. 

South Dakota Open Carry Vice President Jesse Rierson says anyone who carries a firearm generally has some kind of training.  

"Most people that carry, they're carrying for a reason—to protect themselves.  And when you're trying to protect yourself, you take that pretty seriously," said Rierson. 

He says private citizens who carry a weapon do so for defensive protection, not the offensive shooting a police officer engages in. 

"Offensive use of a firearm is what the police are for. They actively go out and search for a shooter and look for him," said Rierson. 

A differentiation Rierson says teachers and all private citizens need to understand. 

"As long as they teach them it's not an offensive weapon, it's a defensive weapon.  I would never advocate teachers running around the halls looking for a shooter," said Rierson. 

Groups who oppose the idea say teachers carrying guns in the classroom add far too many risks. 

"Even if a teacher has a license to carry a gun in a school, what's to say that a student won't get a hold of it, what's to say that they'll be able to use it properly in an emergency situation?  The potential consequences are too awful to contemplate," said South Dakota Peace and Justice Executive Director Tom Emanuel. 

This group is advocating for restricting the access to firearms and addressing mental health issues.  

Representative Olson also says there are several other factors the legislature should address. 

"This isn't thee answer, this is just one answer," said Olson. 

Olson is working with other legislators to formally propose a bill this legislative session.  Many South Dakota law makers say they expect to see several proposals addressing gun control and usage and school safety this legislative session.

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