Guns are coming to Alabama schools.
Gov. Kay Ivey on Wednesday announced that the state will soon allow some school administrators to be armed, reflecting a controversial idea supported by President Donald Trump after school shootings this year.
Select administrators must undergo training to bring the guns to schools, according to AL.com. The program is expected to begin this fall.
"Now is the time to act and that is exactly what I am doing today," Ivey said during a press conference, adding that she thinks this is what should be done while the legislature debates whether resource officers can be put in every school.
The program will only be applicable for schools that don’t already have resource officers, though Ivey said her ultimate goal is getting them in every school.
Most Americans oppose arming teachers, according to a March Gallup poll. Even Ivey herself has opposed arming teachers in the past. But Ivey said that’s not exactly what this program will do. She made it clear that there is a difference between teachers and administrators.
"School administrators have complete access to all rooms in a school," Ivey said. "And unlike teachers, administrators are not responsible for the immediate custodial care of students during the day."
Approved administrators will be required to store weapons in a safe and they are only allowed to access them if there is an armed intruder. Anyone who wants to become a sentry must receive approval of the local superintendent, local school board and county sheriff. They must carry a concealed carry permit, take drug screenings, a mental health evaluation and a stress test. They will also have to wear a special bulletproof vest if there is a shooting incident, which would indicate that they are a sentry to responding police.
"We all know there are places in the state that may be 20 minutes from a sheriff's deputy or state trooper, the nearest law enforcement person," Eric Mackey, the state's schools superintendent, said at the press conference. "They may not have (a resource officer) in that school. So this gives them an opportunity to have somebody on site who's highly trained, who has access to a weapon."
Sally Smith, executive director of the Alabama Association of School Boards, called the program a "reasonable, interim solution with some sensible safeguards until the legislature can address this issue and identify a long-term plan" to fund resource officers.
Not everyone finds it reasonable, though.
“This is the absolute worst idea imposed on students,” the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said in a statement. “Since the Columbine school massacre in 1999, more than 215,000 students have been exposed to gun violence in schools. The answer to stop gun violence is not to bring in more guns."
The Alabama chapter of the advocacy group Moms Demand Action stated on Facebook, "There is no evidence that arming teachers or other school staff or administrators will protect children in schools. School officials have other jobs they are meant to be doing. They aren't trained sharpshooters and don't have ongoing training."
At least 14 states already arm teachers in at least one district, according to VICE News. Another 16 give local school boards the authority to decide on the issue.
Some Texas teachers have had guns in schools since the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre. Out of the 1,023 school districts in the state, 172 have a policy called Guardian Plan that allows staff to carry guns to school, according to USA Today.
The policy is similar what will be rolling out in Alabama, stipulating that guns must be kept in safes and armed staff members must be trained.
Trump pushed the idea of arming more teachers nationwide after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida that killed 17 people on Valentine's Day.
[Photo: Getty Images]
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