House Panel Endorses Guns in Schools Bill

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House Panel Endorses Guns in Schools Bill

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The House Education Committee on Friday endorsed a bill that would allow K-12 staff and employees to have guns at school. The bill sponsored by Rep. John Eklund, R-Cheyenne, was approved on a 6-3 vote and now heads to the full House for further debate.

Under the proposal, local school boards could allow teachers and other school staff members who hold concealed-carry permits to carry guns or have a weapon stored in a lock box on campus if they get proper training. The Education Committee approved changes to the bill that include requiring 40 hours of law-enforcement-approved training for those allowed to have guns in a school and providing for the option of storing the weapon in a lock box.

Eklund says his bill would especially enhance school security in rural areas that can't afford to put police officers in schools and that are far away from the nearest law enforcement agency. In addition, the possibility that a teacher or janitor might be armed could deter someone from carrying out a school attack, he says.

Representatives of the school boards and law-enforcement associations voiced support for the measure. The bill also drew varied opposition. Committee member Rep. Cathy Connolly, D-Laramie, and other members of the panel say trained police officers are the best solution to school security.

Anthony Bouchard, director of the Wyoming Gun Owners Association, questioned giving school boards the power to determine who has the right to bear arms. Under the bill, a school board that doesn't allow school staff and others to have a gun is infringing on that person's Second Amendment rights, Bouchard says.

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