SD lawmakers may consider allowing school employees to carry guns
PIERRE, S.D. (KTIV) -
The deadly shootings at a Connecticut elementary school in December have many groups talking about guns. Some of the talk, including at the White House, is about banning certain types of guns.
However, the talk at the South Dakota Legislature is about whether people should be able to carry them in schools.
It's sure to be one of the most contentious topics in Pierre.
"We've created sitting ducks by having gun free zones," said Senator Dan Lederman, a republican from Dakota Dunes, South Dakota.
He's one of several South Dakota lawmakers saying they'd support legislation allowing certain school employees to carry guns for protection if they were certified.
Sen. Lederman said, "But if you're looking at administrators and teachers, what you would want to have is someone with a complete background check. Who completes a firearms training course."
"I think it depends on how the legislation is written. Words are real important. One, two or three words can change the whole meaning and what we want is safety," said Nancy Rasmussen, a republican from Hurley, South Dakota representing Clay and Turner counties.
The issue of guns in schools has Siouxland lawmakers more divided than you might think. While some feel gun certification for a select few in schools may be a good option, others say guns in schools isn't the answer.
Sen. Tom Jones, a democrat from Viborg said, "No. I don't think that's our answer. The answer comes from the mental health aspect rather than the arms part."
"I can certainly respect what they're bringing forth, but if we're going to have everyone carrying guns is there some chances there could be accidental discharges?" questioned Sen. Jean Hunhoff, a Yankton republican.
Some also fear any legislation passed this year allowing guns in schools, would be an over-reaction to a tragic event that happened hundreds of miles away.
Rep. Jim Bolin of Canton, South Dakota said, "If something like this happened in rural South Dakota, small town South Dakota, I think there would be a great shift in public opinion and something like that might be allowed."
House Minority Leader Bernie Hunhoff points out some schools in remote areas can be an hour away from law enforcement and can't afford to pay a resource officer to patrol their hallways. So he says what might work for some might not work for all.
"What I'm hearing from most school districts is no, we don't want to do that. We don't' need to do that. Schools are still the safest place for a child to be," said Hunhoff, a Yankton democrat.
Several gun bills are expected to be introduced over the course of the session, giving lawmakers about 30 days to decide what's best for their state.
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