A bill by Gordon Senator Tom Brewer allowing teachers and other staff in schools to be armed in the hopes of deterring school shootings drew dozens of testifiers and emotional testimony Tuesday before the legislature’s Education Committee.
Brewer’s bill has 3 parts, two of which drew general support. One gives local school boards the power to allow off-duty law enforcement to carry guns onto school property while the other lets districts create detailed maps of their buildings and grounds that local law enforcement could use in the event of a shooting.
The third part, which drew passionate support and opposition, allows teachers or other school staff to be armed, as long as they first complete gun handling and safety training.
Brewer told the committee that Nebraska’s rural districts need the bill because many schools are miles away from the nearest law enforcement and rarely have access to school resource officers that are common in cities like Omaha and Lincoln.
At least 32 states, including all of Nebraska’s neighbors have laws allowing teachers or other school staff to be armed during school hours, and Brewer said Nebraska is “an island that has decided not to protect our children.”
Most of those testifying in favor of the bill focused on the school mapping provision, which also drew support from opponents of the bill, but testimony on allowing armed school staff brought out emotions.
Teacher Tim Royers, president of the Millard Education Association, recounted a shooting at his Omaha school 13 years ago that saw a 17-year old suspended student shoot and kill the assistant principal and wound the principal before taking his own life.
Royers said that in the years since, he’s never heard any educator express a desire to be armed but has been told by plenty of them that a provision like Brewer’s would drive them out of teaching.