(AP Photo/Mark Zaleski, File)
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Following the horrific shooting at a Nashville Christian school last week that took six lives, including three nine-year-olds, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee plans to expand school safety measures to call for the placement of school resource officers in every school in the state, public and private.
The governor spoke to the Tennessean about the great emotional toll the Covenant school shooting has taken on the community.
“I think we all understand when people are fearful, when people are angry, when people lash out. I have those same emotions myself, we all do,” Lee said.
“We have an obligation, I have an obligation, to do what I can and work together with leaders across this community to address people’s concerns and to protect our kids in whatever way we can.”
The expanded proposal would support placing an armed guard in every public school with state funding for private schools to do the same.
According to Fox News:
Under this proposal, which would have to be approved by the state legislature, private schools would be required to hire guards with the same level of training as public school requirements. However, private schools will not be forced to take advantage of the program.
Lee issued a similar executive order last year and pushed a new school safety plan in his state of the state address earlier this year. State lawmakers in recent weeks considered the new proposal, which includes penalties for public schools found with security violations.
The governor’s initial budget proposal this year included $20 million for school building security upgrades. He also plans to propose expanding this fund with additional money for private schools.
The new plan would also seek additional mental health support through school-based behavioral health liaisons. Lee previously established a $250 million mental health “trust fund” that has yet to be spent.
“Mental health concerns are something that we have to continue to invest in,” the Tennessee governor said. “There will be conversations across the board about mental health for students and mental health in general. And support for those who need help, and who do in fact become a threat to themselves or others.”
Twenty states in the U.S. have Extreme Risk Protection Legislation, better known as red flag laws, in place, Tennessee not being one of them.
Lee would not commit to pursuing such legislation that allows authorities to pursue a civil legal order to remove guns from any person deemed a considerable risk to themselves or others.
“Most practical, thoughtful people believe that individuals who are a threat to themselves or to others shouldn’t have access to weapons,” Lee said. “In my view, that’s a practical, thoughtful approach.”
While no one would disagree that we need to keep weapons out of the hands of mentally unstable people, how to go about it is up for debate.
How do we strip an American of a constitutional right without infringing on their civil liberties?
How can we be sure that someone is not labeled a threat by an enemy, an unscrupulous law enforcement agency, or someone out for revenge?
It’s a slippery slope.
Armed guards in schools seem to make the most sense to keep these deranged killers from harming our country’s most precious citizens.