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Georgia’s Lt. Gov Wants to Pay Teachers $10k to Carry Guns at School

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Georgia’s lieutenant governor, Republican Burt Jones, announced on Wednesday his proposal to incentivize teachers with a $10,000 annual stipend to undergo firearms training and carry guns in schools.

Speaking at Austin Road Elementary School in Winder, Jones outlined his plan to allocate additional funds to enhance school safety. This includes providing firearms training to teachers and non-law enforcement staff, as well as offering an annual stipend to teachers holding firearms training certificates.

In addition to these measures, Jones’s plan aims to enforce more stringent standards for the existing mandatory school safety plans and increase state funding for the hiring of school resource officers with police certification. These officers’ salaries and benefits can amount to $80,000 or more.

Jones emphasized that this approach is designed to better prepare both faculty and law enforcement while taking proactive measures to prevent school shootings.

“We feel like this is the best way to prepare faculty, but also prepare law enforcement and the system however we can,” Jones said, telling the press the state should be “proactive” to prevent shootings.

Thankfully, the president of the Georgia Association of Educators, Lisa Morgan, said her teacher group “categorically” opposes anyone besides certified officers carrying guns in schools. She suggested Jones instead write legislation to hire more counselors.

“Teachers should not be armed in the classroom,” Morgan said. “We are not there to serve as law enforcement and introducing more firearms into the school is not a way to solve the problem of violence in our schools.”

Other sane people also argue that acquiring the necessary proficiency to use a firearm effectively in an emergency will require extensive practice, citing a history of even regular police officers inadvertently discharging their firearms in school settings.

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Barrow County Superintendent Chris McMichael expressed his district’s cautious approach to arming employees, highlighting that while the security chief is allowed to carry a firearm, the school board would need to conduct a thorough evaluation before considering arming other staff members. McMichael voiced his support for increased funding directed towards school resource officers, given that the district currently has 15 or 16 officers, insufficient to assign one to each of its 20 schools.

On the other hand, Barrow County Sheriff Jud Smith displayed a more favorable stance, suggesting that armed teachers could serve as a “force multiplier” in the event of a shooting.

The Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE), the largest teacher group in the state, called for a shift in school safety funding. They proposed integrating it into the state’s school funding formula to ensure consistent and reliable funding from year to year, rather than dispersing it through one-time grants.

Margaret Ciccarelli, PAGE’s chief lobbyist, revealed that a recent survey involving 4,000 members ranked allowing non-officers to carry guns as their least preferred school safety measure. Their top priorities included mental health interventions, increased school resource officers, and enhanced safety plans.

Since 2014, Georgia has permitted local school boards to authorize trained individuals who are not police officers, including teachers, to carry firearms on school premises. However, the extent to which districts have adopted this policy remains uncertain, with at least five school districts allowing some non-officers to carry guns. Notably, in Barrow and Cobb counties, this policy exclusively pertains to security personnel without police certification, excluding teachers.

It’s unclear if other top Republicans support Jones’ proposed legislation.  Jones’ program is modeled on a proposal in Texas that did not pass.  Like Georgia, Texas already allows teachers to carry guns, but has had few takers.

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