House passes state-funded gun training for teachers

By: - February 15, 2023 7:00 am
training bill

A firearm shooting instructor assists a student at a shooting range. (Getty Images)

The Indiana House on Tuesday passed a bill providing state funding to train teachers who carry guns in classrooms after an emotional debate.

School districts can already authorize the arming of teachers, but there isn’t a specific training curriculum — or much money — to go with it.

“This is just a standardized [training] format that the state will pay for,” author Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, said on the floor. He’s said the bill is a response to deadly mass shootings at schools across the country.

Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour. (Photo from Indiana House Republicans)

But Rep. Tonya Pfaff, D-Terre Haute — who has taught math for nearly three decades — said she worries the guns could be stolen or used in small disagreements.

“School protection officers have jobs to protect the school, and I appreciate that,” she said on the floor. “They protect, I teach algebra. There’s no reason to switch.”

School corporations can get one matching grant annually from the Indiana Secured School Fund for their security programs. House Bill 1177 would allow an additional grant for specialized firearms instruction.

The measure also would authorize state dollars for counseling services for students, teachers, school staff and employees in the event of a school shooting.

Lucas emphasized that participation would be voluntary for both school districts and individual staff members, and that districts could go above and beyond the proposed state program — as long as they paid for it.

The program would involve 40 hours of training for firearm safety and use, based on the training law enforcement officials currently use.

Democrats pushed back, arguing that by encouraging participation in such programs, the bill would increase the number of guns in schools and the potential for violence.

Rep. Victoria Garcia Wilburn, D-Fishers, said she thought a better solution was to “properly fund” school resource officers, rather than “arm teachers.”

Discussion from both parties went on for about 25 minutes. But Lucas maintained that the bill would ensure teachers who want to take up arms are properly trained.

“This is not a guarantee. I can’t predict the future,” Lucas said. “The purpose of this bill is to provide those that want it [with] a tool to be able to make a last-ditch effort” to protect themselves and students.

House members passed the bill 71-24. All the no votes came from Democrats. The measure now goes to the Senate for consideration.


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Leslie Bonilla Muñiz
Leslie Bonilla Muñiz

Leslie joins the Indiana Capital Chronicle after covering city government and urban affairs for the Indianapolis Business Journal for more than a year. She graduated from Northwestern University in March 2021, and has reported for the Chicago Tribune, Voice of America and student publications in Evanston, Illinois, Washington, D.C., and Doha, Qatar.