Different School, Same Questions For State Lawmakers
This week's violence at Marshall County High School has rekindled a now-familiar debate over the role of government in preventing school shootings.
Wednesday was a day of solemn reflection in the Senate chambers, as lawmakers took the floor to offer prayers for victims' families and thanks to first responders. But divisions over the proper response from the Capitol were already showing.
"This is not a problem that's going to be solved in this body, in the House, the governor's office," Republican Senator Danny Carroll said, acknowledging inevitable questions about gun control, metal detectors, and other measures. "It's something that we're all going to have to work together on."
Democratic Minority Leader Ray Jones later responded, "What I don't accept is that we can't take steps as a General Assembly to improve school safety."
A bill filed by Republican Sen. Stephen West just hours after the shootings would allow for armed marshals in public and private schools, an idea that appears to have bipartisan backing. Schools would select marshals from the pool of school employees who already have concealed carry permits.
"With the tragedies that are going on in our school systems, I think schools are always constantly looking... how do they get their school safer," co-sponsor Sen. Ralph Alvarado said. "This gives them another option."
The bill creates an exception to state law, which bars weapons on school property. Marshals could make citizen's arrests or fire their weapon to protect individuals from "imminent death or serious physical injury." The measure requires that the guns be stored in an area that is both locked and secure and accessible in the event of an emergency.
Asked about the proposal, Senate President Robert Stivers warned against adopting a one-size-fits-all approach to school safety and urged all parties to wait until the details emerge.
"Do we need to do something? Yeah, but we need to know all the facts," he told reporters. "we need to let people investigate, come back, and say this is what happened."