The Senate Appropriations Committee voted this week to let teachers legally carry concealed weapons in at least some public schools. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer reports.
The proposal by Senator Rich Crandall is fairly narrow. It permits school districts to let staffers who have undergone special training to arm themselves. But it is limited solely to schools with fewer than 600 students that are located at least 30 minutes and 20 miles away from the closest law enforcement facility. That is based in part on the idea that they are too far away from police to get a rapid response in case of a problem.
But Crandall also wants the state to move cautiously in scrapping existing laws that now make guns off limits in schools. "It's kind of a new practice for the state of Arizona following something that's been in place for 5 years in Texas without any challenges," Crandall said. "There have been no incidents that would cause alarm for us as we kind of test the waters in this area."
Senator Rick Murphy questioned why the measure is so narrow. He said, "by passing this bill as is, we're basically saying we're going to make the rural schools safer than we are the more urban schools. Because the fact of the matter is that law enforcement that's 20 minutes away, or 19 minutes away is still 19 minutes away and a lot happens in 19 minutes."
Murphy may get his wish for a broader bill. Representative David Stevens said he'll try to amend Crandall's proposal when it goes to the House of Representatives to have it apply statewide.