By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday, State Rep. Will Ainsworth, R-Guntersville, responded to recent criticism of his plan to arm school teachers received from U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama.
Ainsworth has introduced legislation allowing teachers with Alabama Peace Office Safety and Training (APOST) certification to have access to guns on school grounds as a plan to deal with the possibility of a school shooting.
Jones — who was elected on Dec. 12 — called Ainsworth’s plan “the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.”
Ainsworth responded to Jones comments on Wednesday.
“At the news conference outlining our proposal, I was joined by two Alabama sheriffs, three school superintendents, and roughly a dozen classroom teachers who support the idea of allowing educators to have access to guns during instructional hours in the event of a school shooting, so when Doug Jones dismisses the idea, he insults the law enforcement personnel who risk their lives daily in the line of duty and the brave educators who simply want the right to protect their students and themselves,” Ainsworth said.
The state representative went on to call Jones a “Schumer-loving, gun-controlling liberal Democrat.”
“He believes teachers should protect their classrooms armed with No. 2 pencils,” Ainsworth said. “The real ‘dumbest idea’ occurred when Liberal Doug thought he could get away with voting against a ban on late term abortions while representing a pro-life state that honors innocent, unborn life as much as Alabama does.”
“I will happily challenge Doug Jones to a public debate on the merits of arming trained and certified teachers and utilizing their Second Amendment constitutional rights as the best way to discourage and mitigate school shootings like the one that occurred in Florida last week.”
Ainsworth said that educators in his area contacted him with the idea and asked him to sponsor it shortly after news of the 17 people killed at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He said that his bill is similar to policies already on the books in at least 19 other states, all of which have been adopted since 2003.
The bill already has 31 co-sponsors.
Under Ainsworth’s bill, specially selected teachers and administrators who undergo a thorough mental evaluation and successfully complete annual APOST training would have access to firearms during school hours if an active shooter scenario occurred. Participation in the program would be voluntary, taxpayers would cover the cost of training, and the educators would be responsible for purchasing their own guns under Ainsworth’s plan.
Ainsworth compared his plan to air marshals, who covertly blend into crowded airplanes. The names of those authorized to carry firearms would be kept secret from the school population and public, but local law enforcement would be provided with a specific marker identifying the participants.
Vacating his seat, Ainsworth is running for lieutenant governor in the June 5, 2018, Republican primary. Public Service Commission President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh and State Sen. Rusty Glover, R-Semmes, are also running for the office.
Pastor Will Boyd is running for the office as a Democrat.