Shooting fuels debate on allowing guns in schools


Associated Press

FRANKFORT, Ky.

Hours after authorities say a 15-year-old student shot and killed two classmates at a western Kentucky high school, a Republican senator in the state’s Capitol rushed to file a bill intended to prevent future tragedies by putting more guns in schools.

The legislation from state Sen. Steve West would let local districts hire armed marshals to patrol public schools, make citizen’s arrests and protect people from “imminent death or serious physical injury.”

Marshals wouldn’t have to be police officers, but school district employees in good standing who have a license to carry concealed weapons.

“I’m going to be beating the drum again. We had this shooting this week. If we do what we did last time and nothing is done, this will come back again,” West said of Tuesday’s violence.

As school shootings become more commonplace, debates are raging in Kentucky and state legislatures nationwide about how to prevent them. Some pursue laws that would make it harder for teenagers and others to buy guns and bring them onto school grounds. Others, including some Democrats, want to increase the number of people allowed to carry guns in schools, believing that will deter shootings from starting and quickly stop the ones that do.

In Kentucky, West’s bill is one of at least two that would allow more guns into Kentucky’s public schools and on college campuses. They reflect sentiments that have found bipartisan support in a conservative state whose politicians routinely pose in ads with guns, and where the National Rifle Association had its 2016 national convention. The NRA has an outsized influence in many state elections and the resulting gun policy debates in those legislatures.

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