SD House Education Committee discuss bill that could arm teacher - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

South Dakota House Education Committee discusses bill that could arm teachers in the classroom

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Members of the South Dakota House Education Committee are talking about a bill that would allow school boards to arm teachers or other staff on school property. 

Today's discussion involved testimony from representatives, educators and other invested parties, some in support of the bill and others strongly against it. 

The bill was created as one possible solution to keeping students safe in the wake of recent tragedies.  However, some South Dakotans feel arming teachers, no matter how much training is involved, will not solve anything. 

"I grew up with guns and have used them many times and still use them today, but I still, I don't think I would be comfortable having one in my classroom," said Beresford Band Director Joel Shotwell. 

It's a sentiment many educators share, saying they are in a school to teach students, not to make life or death decisions. 

"I know they say you can train them but I still think there's such a difference between law military personnel or enforcement officers, that is what their trained to do...our people are trained to be educational leaders for students, they're not trained in carrying weapons and utilizing those weapons to take a life," said Beresford Superintendent Brian Field. 

Shotwell says when he's in his classroom, he's only thinking about teaching students. 

"If I'm worried about that, I don't think I can do a very good job," said Shotwell. 

The students we spoke with today said knowing a gun was in the classroom would also distract them from learning. 

"When students see like someone with a gun, even if we haven't had an incident like that, it gives them the fear looming over their head that, that could happen to us," said Beresford sophomore Tiffany Hoffman. 

These Beresford teachers and students say they would be more comfortable if their safety was left up to law enforcement of trained school resource officers. However, the sponsors and supporters of the bill say some rural South Dakota schools do not have immediate access to any law enforcement.

"I know there are some country schools and things that don't have the immediate access, they might not even have local law enforcement, they might rely on county sheriffs," said Field. 

While armed teachers might help in those situations, these students hope the state legislature will think very carefully about bringing guns into their school. 

"You can't just give the teachers a gun and say ok, here, now they're safe," said Beresford Sophomore Maddie Antonsen. 

"A gun is a very dangerous thing and I think you have to think a lot about it before you put it in a place where kids are daily," said Beresford Sophomore Bailey Nelson.

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