An Alabama lawmaker pushing a bill to arm teachers in all state public schools. However, one county in North Alabama already has the right to do that.
Representative, Will Ainsworth from Guntersville is introducing a bill to arm teachers after they go through extensive training, in the wake of the mass school shooting in Florida. Franklin County teachers here in North Alabama can already do that.
In 2013, Representative Johnny Mack Morrow introduced HB116. HB116 would have given teachers in Franklin County the option to arm themselves while at school, but Governor Bentley vetoed the bill.
Morrow then introduced the same bill, with slight changes as HB404. That bill passed and was signed into law. Morrow told WAAY 31, he introduced the bill after the Sandy Hook shooting, which killed 26 people. Morrow said, Franklin County is rural and he didn't feel like telling students to run and hide would be enough to protect them from a mass shooter. Also because of budgets, the Franklin County Sheriff said, they don't have school resource officers. The sheriff said HB404 has given them the option of safety measures they can take without it costing a lot.
Any teacher in Russellville City Schools, or Franklin County Schools can be armed after HB404 became law five years ago. Parents told WAAY31, it gives them piece of mind.
"I think it's good because if anything happened like that the teachers need to be armed to take down that person," said Whitney Granada, who has two children that will be in the Franklin County School System.
Franklin County is the only county that allows teachers to be armed in the state. This is how the law works for Franklin County, each superintendent can go to the Franklin County Sheriff and tell them which teachers need to be trained and armed. The teachers can store guns in safe areas, and go through mental evaluations, and gun training. The school board and sheriff must approve each teacher to be armed.
"I feel like one county can make a change," said Freddy Vargis, who is also a parent in Franklin County. "Other schools will be able to look at Franklin County Schools and they will be able to implement from that."
Vargis told WAAY 31, he thinks having teachers armed is a good thing and he trusts local teachers.
"People should trust them enough to be armed and keep their kids safe," said Vargis.
Whether or not teachers are armed is a secret according to the superintendent of Franklin County Schools. He told WAAY 31, they work closely with the sheriff's office but cannot comment on how many teachers are possibly armed for safety reasons.
Representative Morrow will hold a news conference on Friday to discuss how this law is working in Franklin County. He told us this local law could be a model statewide.