Steve Bittenbender is a reporter for The Center Square.
(The Center Square) – Indiana lawmakers approved a bill recently that would allow teachers and school staff to receive firearms training.
Under House Bill 1177, the state would pay for up to 40 hours of training provided by a qualified instructor. The training would be strictly voluntary for the teachers and staff members, but the school board or charter school would need to approve it. Teachers at nonpublic schools would also be eligible for the training.
The bill is sponsored by state Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, who called it common-sense legislation that could help schools when faced with an active shooter on their grounds. Lucas said he also worked with law enforcement and public safety consultants to craft his legislation.
“When faced with a life-or-death situation, simple drills and basic training can make all the difference,” Lucas said. “With this legislation, schools have the option to send their teachers through a state-certified course designed to teach them how to respond to a threat like an active-shooter situation.”
Over the past decade, the state has awarded more than $133 million in matching grants to school districts to help them bolster their security. Schools in the south-central counties Lucas represents have received about $710,000 in grant funding.
Eligible schools and districts can use that grant money to pay for the firearms training.
The bill requires that any teacher or staff member receiving the firearms training cannot be subject to a suspension, investigation, disciplinary action or criminal prosecution.
Under the 40 hours of training, educators and staff members would receive at least 24 hours of basic marksmanship training and eight hours or more of “dynamic gun drills,” which includes shooting in “high-stress” and “highly populated” scenarios.
HB 1177 passed 71-24. It now heads to the Senate for its consideration.
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