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Indiana schools may apply for armed personnel policy exemption

Changes to a school safety bill made in a House committee Tuesday will allow Indiana public schools to opt-out of a requirement that each facility employ armed personnel, but critics say the changes still don’t solve core problems with the bill.

An amendment approved by the House Ways and Means committee allows public schools to apply for a yearly waiver exempting them from the armed personnel mandate.  Seymour Republican Representative Jim Lucas authored the original amendment requiring all schools to employ armed officials, which could include non-law enforcement personnel such as teachers or principals.  And he said the required 40 hours of firearms training is enough.

“I’m not talking giving teachers or volunteers or staff a firearm and saying, ‘Here, go defend yourself.’  The training is going to be intensive; it’s going to be all-encompassing,” said Lucas.

Carmel resident Nicky McNally is a spokesperson for the grassroots organization Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense.  She said she is terrified by the idea of minimally trained people with guns in her children’s schools.

“Teachers are responsible for 25 to 30 kids at a time.  To think that they could possibly react to a shooter the way that a trained police officer would and still take care of those children at the same time is absolutely ridiculous,” said McNally.

The bill passed the committee Tuesday and now heads to the House floor. 

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.