“Not a solution”: Lawmakers finalize state-funded teacher gun training bill

Plus, a bill limiting prior authorization, which is blamed for high health care costs

By: - April 27, 2023 6:30 am
firearms training

Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, on the floor March 23, 2023. He authored a controversial state-sponsored gun training bill. (Courtesy Indiana House Republicans Flickr)

Both chambers of Indiana’s General Assembly voted to accept the final version of a state-funded teacher firearms training proposal on Wednesday, along with an omnibus health bill featuring some significant provisions.

Several key measures await action Thursday, the last day of session. They include movement on alcohol rules, library materials, public health and property taxes.

Training armed teachers

Lawmakers gave school districts the authority to let their employees carry firearms at school a decade ago, but offered no training protocols.

House Bill 1177 would establish a standardized 40-hour curriculum and let schools with participating staff apply for state training funding. Supporters say participating teachers should have access to training, but others have implied the original authorization should never have passed.

“This bill is not the answer. This bill won’t stop school shootings,” said Democrat Rep. Tonya Pfaff, a longtime math teacher from Terre Haute. She spoke on the House floor Wednesday.

Pfaff and other Democrats argued the bill would lead to more firearms in schools, increasing the potential for their misuse.

Bill author Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, said the legislation isn’t meant to be a cure-all.

“This is not a solution. There are no guarantees,” Lucas said. He framed the bill as an “option” — voluntary for both schools and teachers.

“It is simply impossible to guarantee that [a school shooting] will never happen again,” Lucas added. He argued that controlling movement within schools would turn them into prisons.

The bill won over some Democrats.

Rep. Maureen Bauer of South Bend said she voted for the bill because of a provision requiring the Department of Education and Indiana State Police to develop educational materials on safe firearm storage and to distribute them to parents with kids in school.

She acknowledged that the legislation didn’t go as far as she wanted, but said it was an attempt to prevent “accidental shootings or children from being the next school shooter by gaining access to a firearm.”

The House approved the bill on a 72-22 vote, while the Senate gave it a 41-8 vote.

Health bill finalized

A health care process bill got the green light from both chambers on Wednesday, passing the Senate unanimously and receiving a 90-1 vote in the House.

Senate Bill 400 would create a state employee pilot program barring insurers from requiring prior authorization for certain procedures and medications – a sign of more reform to come – and creates a class of provisional credentialing to get health care providers working sooner.

Additionally, insurers would have to cover wearable cardioverter defibrillators.

Whitney Downard contributed to this report.

Note: This story has been updated with a quote from Rep. Maureen Bauer.


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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.