(Indianapolis, Ind.) - Indiana lawmakers are backing away from a controversial bill that would have required schools to arm a staff member.
Under Senate Bill 1, every public school in the state would have been required to have an armed staff member – a resource officer, principal, teacher, or other staffer – on site during class hours.
On Thursday, the House used a voice vote to amend the bill and remove the provision about arming school employees. That idea has been sent to a summer study committee which will send a recommendation to state lawmakers next year.
State Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Brookville) proposed the amendment to study the idea further.
“We said we’ll just kind of take a deep breath and say ‘Let’s take some time and look at this,’” McMillin told Eagle 99.3.
McMillin said he’s not sure whether or not an armed school employee is the right answer.
“I don’t think it’s the right message to be sending out that there will never be any barriers to people who want to do harm to students in a school…,” he said. “But at the same time, whenever you put firearms in schools you’re creating a hazard there as well.”
Last week during a committee hearing, SB 1 was amended by State Rep. Jim Lucas (R-Seymour) to require a staffer armed with a loaded firearm in every public and charter school in Indiana. The amendment came on the same day the National Rifle Association released its school safety plan recommending armed staff in schools.
Democrats and Republicans alike, including Governor Mike Pence and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, both voiced opposition to the requirement. Pence said decisions ocn school safety should be made by local school districts.
The requirement provision didn't last long. The bill was amended earlier this week to make it optional.
While many high schools in southeast Indiana employ a school resource officer who is sometimes armed, McMillin said Indiana law currently allows individual school corporations to determine if employees can carry a gun on campus.
SB1 is still alive with its original intention to provide funding in the form of grants for school resource officers to work with local law enforcement to study their schools' security situations and put together security plans.