Indiana Senate Advances Handgun Training Bill for Teachers

Caden Pearson
By Caden Pearson
April 19, 2023US News
Indiana Senate Advances Handgun Training Bill for Teachers
Indiana State Senators meet in the Senate chamber in the Indiana State Capitol building in Indianapolis, Ind., on July 25, 2022. (Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

The Indiana Senate approved a bill on Tuesday that would provide funding for teachers and other school employees to undergo firearms training across the state.

Introduced by Republicans, the bill first passed the House 42–8 in February before passing the Senate 71–24 on Tuesday with the support of two Democrats.

The proposed 40 hours of voluntary training would be funded by taxpayers to help teachers learn how to defend themselves and their students in the event of an active shooter. While state law currently permits teachers to be armed, no standardized training is mandated.

The legislation will also allow schools to apply for funding “to cover the costs of counseling” for students, teachers, and other school employees in the event of a mass shooting.

Sen. Travis Holdman for District 19, the bill’s sponsor in the Senate, said before Tuesday’s vote that he wished the training was mandatory, “but we can’t get that as a General Assembly, because I have tried that for the last number of years.”

Even basic training will make a difference in the event of an active shooter scenario, said state Rep. Jim Lucas (R-Seymour), who introduced the bill in the House.

“When faced with a life-or-death situation, simple drills and basic training can make all the difference,” Lucas said in a statement. “With this legislation, schools have the option to send their teachers through a state-certified course designed to teach them how to respond to a threat like an active-shooter situation.”

Similar legislation failed in 2020 amid opposition from both gun rights groups and gun control groups. That legislation was too prescriptive and usurped local control for some gun rights advocates, and for gun control proponents, it was “normalizing” a high-risk strategy of arming teachers.

‘Basic Firearm Familiarization’

While two Democrats in the state Senate joined the Republicans in passing the bill, most of the Democrats had doubts about its effectiveness in preventing school shootings.

State Sen. Andrea Hunley, a Democrat for District 46, asked how 40 hours of training would prepare teachers “to shoot a kid” in the classroom, stating that the legislation was not enough to stop school shootings.

“I’m struggling that now we’re at the point where we’re going to arm our teachers,” Hunley said on the Senate floor while questioning Lucas, the bill’s author.

Hunley also questioned why the training should include “dynamic gun drills” for shooting while in high-stress scenarios and while moving. She characterized the inclusion of such drills as training teachers to “act like SWAT officers.”

State Sen. Fady Qaddoura, a Democrat for District 30, also stated that the training “almost looks to me like SWAT training, not teachers being trained to protect their students.”

Responding to these claims, Lucas said teachers were “absolutely not” being trained to become police officers or SWAT officers.

“This is just basic firearm familiarization with the mindset … you have to develop, proper weapon handling techniques, and how to go about working in an environment that you might be getting shot at,” Lucas said.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Jim Tomes, a Republican for District 49, said guns aren’t the issues; people are.

“We’ve got to quit worrying about the gun,” Tomes said. “We’ve got to think about the human component, what we’re dealing with, we have a ‘meanness’ in our society, an evilness in this society, and it goes beyond mental illness sometimes of people who just want to hurt people, and they want to hurt kids, and they know they’re soft targets in these schools.”

On Monday, an amendment to the bill that would have necessitated schools to inform parents if an employee completes firearm training and carries a gun, was also voted down. In answer to Hunley’s questions on this, Lucas noted that teachers were already permitted to have a gun license.

The bill advanced in the state legislature just days after former President Donald Trump spoke at the annual National Rifle Association convention in Indianapolis, where he called to arm teachers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.