By Victor Skinner
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Education Association is breaking rank with its parent union, the National Education Association, and embracing legislation to arm teachers if schools don’t have a uniformed officer.
The NEA has staunchly opposed any guns in public schools and has used the recent school shooting tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut to join with its liberal allies in calling for restrictions on gun ownership.
“Guns have no place in our schools. Period,” NEA President Dennis Van Roekel and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said in a joint press release in December.
“We must do everything we can to reduce the possibility of any gunfire in schools, and concentrate on ways to keep all guns off school property and ensure the safety of children and school employees.”
Apparently the NEA’s Tennessee affiliate doesn’t agree.
The state union is supporting a bill sponsored by Sen. Frank Nicely that would mandate every school employ an armed resource officer, and for those that can’t afford it, would allow an administrator or other faculty member to be trained to carry their gun to school as a last resort, WKMS.org reports.
The TEA apparently isn’t too hot about teachers and administrators carrying guns, but desperately wants resource officers in schools, so it’s essentially overlooking the ‘last resort’ clause, TEA president Gera Summerford told the news site.
“I think the way we would look at it is it’s the responsibility of law enforcement-trained personnel,” she said.
Either way – with an armed law enforcement officer or an armed educator – the union clearly sees the value in having an employee with a weapon on campus in every school. That puts the state union very much at odds with its national organization.
Sen. Nicely has also introduced a broader bill that we believe may be even more effective at preventing school violence. The legislation would allow any educator with permission and proper training to carry a gun to school, WKMS reports.
The more options schools and teachers have to protect their students, the safer they will be.