July 1, 2022

Kansas Republicans just unveiled an appalling plan to force teachers to carry guns in class

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Teachers are against it, school boards oppose it and insurance companies won’t cover schools that do it,  but an ultra-conservative Kansas lawmaker has introduced a bill that could force the educators to carry guns in the classroom, taking the controversial concept far beyond what any other state is doing. 


The bill would hold schools liable if there is a shooting and they have not allowed the arming of teachers, which may be illegal because it could lead to the jailing, fining or firing of educators if there is a deadly shooting incident in their classroom. 

At a standing room only hearing in Topeka this week, where the majority of people were against the proposed law, Republican State Rep. Blake Carpenter defended the legislation he helped write by claiming that it is needed because smaller school districts may not be able to afford school-resource officers.

Carpenter quoted from the Clint Eastwood movie “American Sniper” as he told a House committee that deadly shootings in the classroom are a fact of life.

“It is not, if our kids will be killed,” said Carpenter. “It is, when will they be killed and what are we doing to prevent it.”

Nearby, reports the Kansas City Star, “men and women in anti-gun violence ‘Moms Demand Action’ T-shirts shook their heads no and murmured against his acceptance of a situation they are determined to change. Didn’t he just say nothing can prevent gun deaths? And teachers are not snipers.”

This is one of many laws that have been proposed across the country in the wake of the murder of 17 students and faculty in Parkland, Florida on Valentines Day.

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At least nine other states have provisions giving teachers the option to carry guns in schools, according to a report by The Associated Press, “but the Kansas plan seems to go further than most other laws in place or under consideration.”

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Conservative Kansas lawmakers have refused to pass even most sensible gun control laws including banning bump stocks and requiring background checks before allowing someone to buy a gun or assault rifle, but other Republicans are pushing a bill that is about improving school infrastructure instead of arming the teachers.

Since 2013, Kansas has allowed teachers to carry guns but school districts have not allowed it because insurance companies have refused to provide coverage to schools that arm their educators and staff.

Carpenter’s bill would require insurance companies doing business int he states to provide insurance to the schools but Kansas Association of School Boards lobbyist Mark Tallman said that would not be feasible because the insurance company would just jack up the rates to a point where it is no longer affordable for the school district.

Democratic state Rep. Brett Parker, who is also a school teacher, said even if this bill fails it has started a dangerous conversation: “The further we go down this rabbit hole, the more chance there is for even more obnoxious legislation moving forward.”

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Parker said he had received 284 letters, mostly from teachers unhappy about being armed and working alongside others who are armed.

“We’re inventing new ways, it seems,” said Parker, “to drive people out of the teaching profession in Kansas.”

Even a lobbyist for the Kansas State Rifle Association, Jason Watkins, who attended the hearing in Topeka had to admit that having guns in schools could lead to accidents’

“Of course,” Watkins told the Kansas City Star, “opportunities for mishaps are going to increase, just like opportunities for auto accidents increase the more cars there are on the road.”

Carpenter’s bill in its present form is not given a strong chance for ultimate passage, but as Rep. Parker warns, this conversation opens the door for other even more extreme bills or even laws.

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America has entered a dark phase where the problem of school shootings is no longer about the failure to counsel and identify troubled students, or to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, or to just have fewer guns – especially assault rifles – readily available. 

Instead, it gives conservative gun advocates new ways to push for more guns, more dangerous situations in schools and a kind of wild-west atmosphere. 

Somebody needs to tell Carpenter and his ilk that it is no longer 1870 in Abilene Kansas when Sheriff Wild Bill Hickok stood guard in front of the Alamo Saloon waiting for the next gunfight to break out.

Benjamin Locke

Benjamin Locke is a retired college professor with an undergraduate degree in Industrial Labor and Relations from Cornell University and an MBA from the European School of Management.

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