MONTGOMERY — Lawmakers and other state officials mentioned their grandchildren repeatedly during today’s joint legislative hearing on school safety. But they didn’t always agree on the best ways to make them safer in Alabama schools.
Grover Smith, president of the Alabama Sheriff’s Association, said that teachers should not be armed because the training and mental preparedness required is too much to ask of them.
“Teaching someone when to shoot and when not to shoot is a lifetime mission,” Smith said. “We don’t want to put that burden on our teachers. They already have enough.
“That isn’t something that needs to be handed out to someone on a part-time basis.”
He said he wouldn’t want his grandchildren to attend a school where teachers are armed.
But some lawmakers, like state Rep. Kerry Rich, R-Albertville, said that arming school staff should be an option for schools, especially for rural ones where police response times are greater.
Rich said he trusts school superintendents and boards to make decisions about arming staff members.
“I would rather my granddaughter go to that school (with teachers trained to shoot),” he said.
The school safety discussion, a step toward potential new laws in Alabama, comes in the wake of last month’s mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., where 28 people died, including 20 children.
Rep. Lynn Greer, R-Rogersville, said his first choice would be to put armed resource officers in every school. Until that can happen, Greer, who has 10 grandchildren in school, said he’s not against teachers being armed.
“I hope today that in the schools my grandkids are attending, some adult is carrying a pistol,” he said. “It certainly would make me feel better.”
The public is invited to share its thoughts and suggestions about school safety. Emailed comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org until the end of the month.
To read more about the discussion, see Thursday's print and online editions.