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Indiana Statehouse

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STATEHOUSE — Under current Indiana state law, teachers are allowed to have handguns in their classrooms as long as their school board has given its approval to do so.

Neither that law nor a bill being considered this session in the Indiana Statehouse are requiring teachers to have guns in their classrooms. House Bill 1177 is a push by State Rep. Jim Lucas (R-Seymour) to create a state-funded voluntary training program for teachers to learn about and learn to shoot handguns.

The program, if teachers or school employees choose to take part, would require teachers to complete 40 hours of firearm training in order for the state to pay for said training.

“I am not asking teachers or staff to be a SWAT team,” Lucas said in a committee hearing on Wednesday. “(Teachers) will not be required to take on an active shooter. This is a defensive mechanism only, paid for by the state as long as they complete these 40 hours of training.”

“The purpose of this bill is to train teachers and staff that volunteer and want to have the ability to defend themselves a chance to survive,” Lucas said. “Give them the option, because as we’ve seen and as I’ve laid out the facts when seconds count police are minutes away or else they are waiting outside under a state of confusion.”

The bill advanced out of a committee vote Wednesday 9-4 with Democrats on the committee voting against it. All of them in agreement they think having guns in a classroom is a fundamentally bad idea.

The Indiana State Teachers Association weighed in on the bill as well.

“School employees should not be mandated to be armed,” said John O’Neil with ISTA. “Since House Bill 1177 provides optional and voluntary training for school employees ISTA is neutral on this bill.”

The bill now awaits a vote in the full Indiana House.