In response to a deadly school shooting in western Kentucky this week, some state lawmakers are pushing to pass a bill that would allow school districts to appoint campus staff members to become armed guards.
On Tuesday, authorities said a 15-year-old boy shot and killed two students and wounded 18 others at Marshall County High School in Benton, about 20 miles southeast of Paducah.
The attack started at 7:57 a.m. and ended when sheriff’s deputies arrested the boy at 8:06 a.m., authorities said. For a rural school district, a police response time of nine minutes is not bad. But it was not quick enough to thwart the shooting before many students were harmed.
So shortly after the shooting, Republican state Sen. Stephen West introduced Senate Bill 103, which would allow schools to appoint “an employee in good standing of a local public school district or private or parochial school” with a concealed-carry license to become an armed “marshal” at the school.
State Sen. Ralph Alvarado, a Republican who co-sponsored the bill, said the legislation would loosen state restrictions for guns on school property.
The bill would apply to all schools, he said, but rural school districts might find it especially useful. Kentucky has 264 police officers who serve as school resource officers at schools in half of the state’s counties, “but for some of our rural counties, which are small, they can’t afford it,” Alvarado said.
“People from rural communities are saying, ‘Thank you,’ ” Alvarado said of reaction to his bill. “People from urban communities are upset. They don’t like it. Well, you don’t have to do it.” Alvarado added that city school districts were likely to have more money to pay for armed guards.
After the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., school districts and lawmakers have looked for ways to prevent shootings. National Rifle Assn. President Wayne LaPierre, in a speech shortly after that shooting, called for Congress to “act immediately, to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every school.”
That hasn’t happened, and nor have liberal lawmakers’ hopes for universal background checks and other restrictions.
Paying police or professional security officers to be stationed at schools is often cost-prohibitive.
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SOURCE: Los Angeles Times, Matt Pearce