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ABC 13 Special Report: Teachers With Guns? - abc27 WHTM

ABC 13 Special Report: Teachers With Guns?

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Training video. Training video.

Bedford Co., VA - For the second year in a row the General Assembly is debating the issue of arming teachers in schools to keep children safe.

Some local leaders are even asking for teachers to be allowed to carry concealed weapons.

A bill that would require a school system to designate one person in every school to carry a gun never made it out of a House committee this year.

Another bill that would keep school systems from firing a teacher who keeps an unloaded gun in his or her car, parked on school property, was passed in the house and is now in the Senate.

"Entering a school it's who are you approaching and who's approaching you," said Capt. Mike Miller with the Bedford County Sheriff's Office.

"If you've got 50 teachers in a school and one of them's got a gun, how are the police going to know who that person is?" asked Bedford Co. School Board Chairman Gary Hostutler.

"They're not going to know every teacher in the system," Bedford County Sheriff Mike Brown said.

"Your first thought would be 'Is this the shooter?'," said Sheriff's Deputy Nash.

A deputy's first instinct could be to engage anyone he sees holding a gun says Sheriff Mike Brown.

"I think there is a greater danger for this teacher to have a weapon, standing out in a hallway," Brown said. "They see a person with a handgun standing in the hallway, they don't know who that person is. They're going to engage that individual."

"You really don't know who's actually coming out of that room next and that's what a police officer has to be prepared for," Captain Miller said.

Captain Miller oversees tact team training inside a state of the art, military shoot house.

Fortunately, his team has never seen a real-life scenario play out inside a school.

Miller's boss, Sheriff Brown, said if teachers want to carry guns in the classroom they should go through training.

Bedford County School Board Chairman Gary Hostutler said training would help, but says it's not needed yet.

"If it ever got to that point [we would train teachers]. But I hope it never does," Hostutler said.

 

Shoot, don't shoot: it's a decision law enforcement officers are trained to make.

"For a teacher to be making that kind of decision, is a big decision to kind of make for them to ever be in that kind of position that they could fire a shot," Hostutler said. "If you shot a student, if a teacher shot a student accidentally, oh my God. It would be horrendous."

There haven't been any teachers who've approached the Bedford County School Board asking for permission to carry guns in the classroom.

Bedford County's Education Association says teachers don't want this. ABC 13 talked to teachers who already have concealed carry permits, however, and they have three reasons for not wanting to talk about it on camera:

Repercussions: The teachers had concern over what their school system would think if they were speaking out on such a controversial subject.

The second, privacy: A lot of folks who have concealed carry permits don't necessarily want the world to know.

The third consideration, the stigma: teachers ABC 13 talked to were concerned what their fellow teachers would think if they knew they carried a gun when they're not at school.

"I've not found any teachers that are crazy about the person in the room next to them being armed," Hostutler said. "We've heard more from teachers saying you allow a gun into my school, I quit."

At the suggestion of Supervisor John Sharp, the Bedford County Board of Supervisors asked state lawmakers to make the allowance of concealed carry for permitted teachers a legislative priority this session.

"Many teachers would not choose to do this, but we have a few that already have concealed carry permits who would be more than happy to carry," Sharp said.

State Senator Steve Newman did not present any such bill on the county's behalf nor did Delegates Terry Austin, Scott Garrett, or Kathy Byron.

Byron told supervisors more information regarding implementation and training is needed before drafting such a bill and that the new governor wouldn't support it anyway. She suggested getting other counties on board before proceeding.

"This legislative priority is not about Bedford County choosing to arm our teachers. It's about asking Richmond to stop disarming them," Sharp said.

Even Sheriff Mike Brown has suggested if teachers are allowed to carry concealed they should have some sort of garment in their classrooms they can throw on to identify themselves to police coming into the school.

That plan is not even foolproof, though. The shooter could get to the vest first and put it on before the teacher, making it even harder for law enforcement to know what side anyone is on.

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