A number of bills have been introduced into the Alabama Legislature to address the need for school security following the Marjory Stonemason Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida.
One legislator introduced bills to ban the sale of semiautomatic firearms. Another introduced a bill to ban 18 to 20 year olds from having assault weapons. There was talk of funding school resource officers in every school. There was a bill to create a highly trained school security force embedded in the schools. The bill that appeared to have the most support would have armed teachers that were required to get APOST training.
House Bill 435 was sponsored by state Rep. Will Ainsworth, R-Guntersville. Ainsworth’s bill armed teachers and administrators to protect the children in their care in order to be able to deal with the school shooting phenomenon that draws headlines across the country every time some mean nasty malcontent guns down his peers, often at school buildings where shooters are facing an unarmed captive population of victims.
House bill 435 passed out of committee last week and was on one of the special order calendars that the rules committee adopted for Tuesday’s session; but it was not the one of the calendars that the leadership brought to the floor. Instead of doing anything to address school security, the leadership prioritized a plan to fund an open air football stadium at the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center. That passed; but only after three and a half hours of contentious debate in a legislative day where the House did not even begin work until after 2:00 p.m.
There were many questions about whether or not HB435 even had the votes to pass had it been brought to the floor. Democrats were planning to filibuster the legislation, which did have 32 co-sponsors. Republican Harry Shivers had made national headlines last week for opposing the bill because he did not trust women to handle firearms and most school teachers are women.
The Legislature is preparing to go home so the Alabama Political Reporter is being told that there are not enough legislative days left in this session for the Senate to meet to take up any House bills that were not transmitted to them by the end of the day on Tuesday.
Ironically, the legislature has plenty of time to pass legislation addressing school security.
Alabama has a part-time legislature that can meet up to 30 days in the annual regular session. The two houses have only used 21 of their 30 legislative days, but the legislators want to go home early to go on vacation and to spend more time in their districts campaigning so APR is being told that they plan to shut this session down having used only 25 of their 30 days.
If that information is correct, they are going to use just four days of their remaining nine so controversial bills like ordering school systems to spend money to have viable school security systems in place or allowing the school teachers to arm themselves to defend the children in an attack may not come on the floor.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has created another school security task force. The legislature had their own task force that delivered a report in December 2016.