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Sen. Lonnie Randolph, Rep. Ragen Hatcher, Sen. Eddie Melton, Rep. Earl Harris and Rep. Vernon Smith at March legislators forum

Melton and Democratic caucus members oppose teacher firearm training

Contributed By:The 411 News

House Bill 1253 moves on in Indiana Senate

Indpls. – On Wednesday, the Senate Education and Career Development Committee voted along party lines to approve House Bill (HB) 1253, which would fund handgun training for teachers. State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Gary), along with other Democratic caucus members, voted against the proposal that asks teachers to act as trained marksmen.

Sen. Melton gave the following comments to the committee when explaining his vote:

“My heart goes out to those who have been impacted by school shootings and general gun violence in Indiana and across the nation. Outside of my personal view and opposition of this bill to pay for handgun training for our teachers, the true question is why we even have a current law that allows teachers to be armed in the first place? If our desire is to protect students, it seems counterproductive to pass legislation that puts more guns into schools rather than working to keep guns out of schools.

“This bill requires teachers to go through National Rifle Association (NRA) training,” Melton said, “instead of being trained by local law enforcement. Our state shouldn’t be in the business of funneling money into organizations like the NRA, at the expense of our children's safety. Why isn’t our law enforcement academy asked to conduct the school firearm training for teachers?

Melton added, “It is also concerning that, at a time when we’re trying to increase teacher pay and give our school districts more money, we are approving a bill that has no determined fiscal impact, so we don’t even know how much it will cost to implement it across the state.”

A teacher brought up HB 1253 during a forum held by local legislators in Gary during the March session break, saying gun training was the last thing needed in the classroom. “They already have enough on their plate,” she said, “what can we do to stop it.”

State Rep. Vernon Smith responded, “There is not much we can do to stop it. Nearly every Republican in the House is a card carrying NRA member.” Smith added there is an option in the bill for school districts not to adopt the policy.

“What can be done is community involvement. If the community doesn’t get involved,” State Rep. Earl Harris said, “then they’re going to push through whatever they want. Whether it’s driving down to Indy or calling, reach out to legislators and let them know this is a problem. Reach out to friends in other parts of the state so your voices can be heard.”

Story Posted:04/12/2019

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