Following the deadly school shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas on Friday, state Representative Will Ainsworth, R-Guntersville, called for Gov. Kay Ivey to call the legislature back for a special session to deal with school safety.
Ainsworth has supports legislation providing Alabama school systems with the option of allowing teachers and administrators to undergo school marshal and resource officer training.
“Every school shooting that takes place in another state around the country brings us one step closer to an active shooter attacking classrooms here, in Alabama, so the governor would be wise to call a special session this summer” Ainsworth said. “Signs reading ‘Gun Free Zone’ are a magnet for those who wish to do harm, so we must provide teachers with the training, knowledge, and ability to defend their students with something more lethal than a ruler and a No. 2 pencil.”
Under the provisions of legislation Ainsworth introduced during the regular session, teachers and administrators who are approved by a local school board, local superintendent, and local law enforcement director may volunteer to undergo mental health evaluation and complete thorough law enforcement training in areas like firearms safety, crisis management, active shooter engagements, and hostile situations.
Following certification, the teachers would be authorized to “carry, possess, store, or otherwise control an authorized weapon while on the premises of a public school.” Ainsworth compared it to undercover air marshals who are allowed to be armed on airplanes. The identities of armed educators will be provided to law enforcement agencies, but otherwise kept confidential.
“The summer break provides us with roughly two months to pass the necessary laws and provided the resources needed to ensure that our children’s schools will be safe, secure, and protected when they return for the new school year,” Ainsworth said. “We must not let politics, campaigns, or elections interfere in securing the safety of our children, so I encourage the governor to announce her intention to convene a special session this summer.”
Ainsworth and Alan Farley, R-McCalla, introduced competing bills to arm certain teachers and school administrators. Farley’s bill is based on a local bill that did pass the legislature allowing Franklin County to arm school teachers. That bill was sponsored by State Representative Johnny Mack Morrow, D-Red Bay, in 2015 after the school shooting in Connecticut.
Rep. Juandalynn Givan, D-Birmingham, introduced legislation that would have made it illegal for anyone under age 21 to possess an assault weapon. Rep. Mary Moore, D-Birmingham, introduced legislation to outlaw the sale of semi-automatic weapons across the state of Alabama. None of that passed. The legislature did pass legislation sponsored by Rep. Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa) that would allow school systems to tap excess stabilization dollars to improve school security, Ivey appointed a task force that is working on the issue.
Ainsworth is a candidate for lieutenant governor.
Public Service Commission President Twinkle Cavanaugh and Senator Rusty Glover, R-Semmes, are also running in the GOP primary.
The eventual GOP primary winner will face pastor Will Boyd in the General Election.