Education

State of Arkansas: Schools may not let teachers carry guns

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Robby Soave Reporter
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An attorney for the state of Arkansas advised a school district against implementing a plan to arm its teachers with guns — drawing the ire of gun rights supporters.

The Clarksville School District planned to let teachers carry guns in school starting in the fall. Administrators even hosted a two-day training session for staff members who planned to act as unofficial security guards for the schools.

School Superintendent David Hopkins said the plan was a response to the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut last year.

“We lock the door, and we hide and hope for the best,” he said in a statement. “Well that’s not a plan.”

But Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel wants to kill the idea.

“Simply put, the code in my opinion does not authorize either licensing a school district as a guard company or classifying it as a private business authorized to employ its own teachers as armed guards,” he wrote in a statement.

McDaniel’s opinion isn’t binding, however — something proponents of gun rights were quick to point out.

“I think the Attorney General’s opinion (which isn’t legally binding, by the way) is a well-timed political ploy meant to distract from his party’s candidate for governor, former [Democratic] Rep. Mike Ross, who made anti-gun comments after the Sandy Hook tragedy,” wrote Nicholas Stehle, a member of the board of Arkansas Carry, in an email to the Daily Caller News Foundation.

The legislature previously passed a law allowing local government entities to deputize individuals. Under this law, schools are allowed to arm teachers who volunteer for the responsibility, wrote Stehle.

“Ultimately, the Attorney General is probably wrong,” he wrote.

Since McDaniel issued the nonbinding opinion, the school district has abandoned its plan to arm teachers. Police have ceased granting gun carry permits to school districts, and may rescind previously issued permits. That’s bad policy, wrote Nic Horton, editor of The Arkansas Project.

“It’s very disturbing to know that, because of McDaniel’s political games, kids in Arkansas schools will be less safe,” he wrote.

Granting school staff the ability to carry weapons is the safest policy, according to Horton.

“I hope the legislature will clear up any ambiguity that may exist in the law and firmly assert the rights of schools to protect students from crazed criminals who don’t follow the law — and who, by the way, don’t listen to Dustin McDaniel,” he wrote.

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Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.