Gun, firearm, teacher

New Bill Allows Tennessee K-12 Educators To Carry Guns At School 

Guns in schools now?

The GOP-controlled Tennessee state Senate approved legislation permitting teachers and staff in K-12 public schools to carry concealed handguns on school premises. 

The approval of S.B. 1325 – with a 26-5 senator vote – was met by protesters on Apr. 9, shouting, “No more silence, end gun violence” and “Kill the bill, not the kids.”

The bill comes close to one year after the state suffered a mass shooting at The Covenant School, resulting in the death of three 9-year-old children and three staff members. Before heading to the state House for an official vote, the bill has already received pushback from anti-gun advocates and Democratic lawmakers. Tennessee chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action released a statement condemning the legislation.

“We should be listening to Tennessee law enforcement, teachers, superintendents and more who have spoken out against arming teachers,” organization volunteer Linda McFadyen-Ketchum said.

“And, most importantly, we should be listening to Tennesseans, who worry their children won’t come home from school every day.”

If signed by Republican Gov. Bill Lee, SB 1325 would no require employees to disclose to parents or other teachers that they had concealed firearms. If passed, school employees will be allowed to carry the weapons if they meet designated requirements—having an enhanced carry permit and being authorized by the school’s director, principal, and chief of the local law enforcement department. 

Educators would also be required to complete 40 hours of basic training in school policing, complete a background check, undergo a psychological exam by a licensed Tennessee health care provider, and attend 40 hours of Peace Officers Standards and Training that targets school policing every year at the teacher’s expense. 

Since parents wouldn’t need to be notified if their child’s teacher is armed under the bill, Sen. London Lamar (D) said her child is now “at risk.” “This bill is dangerous, and teachers don’t want it. Nobody wants it,” she said.

Sen. Raumesh Akbari touched on how backwards the state is when it comes to the safety of children in schools.

“A teacher is not allowed to put a rainbow flag on her desk, but she’s allowed to carry a gun in this state,” Akbari argued on the senate floor before voting against the bill. 

Bill supporter and Republican state Sen. Ken Yager recognized that the legislation is “emotionally charged” but feels it will assist some of the rural counties he represents. With some only having two deputies on shift, Yager thinks the bill would fix delays in law enforcement’s response time to campus gunfire.

The bill puts the issue of arming educators back in the limelight as mass shootings continue to happen in schools, parades, places of worship and more. On Apr. 10, as the Muslim community ended the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, three people were shot as gunfire erupted at a park in Philadelphia.

In 2024, so far, more than 300 children under 18 have been killed due to gun violence, the leading killer of youth in the United States.