Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a bill this week that would have allowed Missouri school districts to designate teachers or administrators as “school protection officers,” who would be authorized to carry concealed firearms in school buildings and classrooms.
“I have consistently opposed the arming of teachers as a means to keep schools safe. It is simply the wrong approach, and one that I do not support,” Nixon wrote in a veto statement.
“The safety of Missourians—especially children—has long been a top priority of mine, both as Governor and as the former chief law enforcement officer of our state. I have supported, and will continue to support, the use of duly authorized law enforcement officers employed as school resource officers in schools. This bill, which would create a new mechanism for the arming of teachers, would not make schools safer.”
Under the bill, teachers and administrators designated as school protection officers would have been required to complete a background check and take special training. While school boards would have to hold a public hearing before considering the approach, they could have made their final decisions in a private, closed session, leaving the public and parents unaware of whether teachers in their districts would be armed.
Following the December 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., state legislatures around the country proposed lifting restrictions on carrying weapons in school zones or creating special programs to arm school staff. Interest in such efforts continues, despite federal data that shows students are less likely to see fatal violence in school than outside of it.
The Missouri proposal was similar to the approach taken by Texas lawmakers, who created “school marshals” as a new form of law enforcement officer following those shootings. School marshals are authorized to anonymously carry a firearm on school grounds after completing a special training course.
In Georgia, many districts are resisting a new law that allows teachers and school staff to carry firearms in schools with approval from district leaders.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.