Georgia Becomes Latest State to Allow Guns in Schools (With Some Restrictions)
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a sweeping gun bill into law this week that will lift many firearms restrictions in bars, churches, and government buildings and under certain conditions when it goes into effect July 1. The new law will also allow a person with written authorization from a public or private school or higher education institution to carry a gun on school property.
State proposals to lift restrictions on concealed carry in schools experienced a surge in popularity as legislatures rushed to shore up school safety plans following the December 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. An Education Week analysis of more than 450 school safety related bills filed in 2013 legislative sessions found 84 proposals related to arming school employees and 73 proposals related to easing gun restrictions in certain areas, including school grounds.
Proposals varied. Some allowed any concealed-carry permit holder to bring a gun on school grounds or to school events. Other bills required school board approval for select staff members who wished to carry guns at school.
The Council of State Governments details some of the new laws from states that allow limited carrying in schools:
- An Alabama law specifically authorizes schools in Franklin County to form volunteer security teams and to detail plans for team members to have access to weapons.
- An Arkansas law allows church-run schools to allow concealed carry on school grounds.
- A Kansas law allows school boards or superintendents to authorize employees with concealed-carry permits to carry on school grounds.
- An Oklahoma law allows some authorized concealed carry on private school grounds.
- A South Dakota law allows school boards to arm and train school employees, security staff, or volunteers as "school sentinels."
- A Tennessee law allows school staff to carry a gun on school grounds with approval from the school board and the completion of an additional 40-hour training course.
- A Texas bill created a new kind of law enforcement officer—a "school marshal"—who will be authorized to anonymously carry a firearm on school grounds after completing a special training course.
While some have suggested allowing guns on campus will make schools safer, especially in active shooter situations, others have said only trained police officers should carry guns in schools.