Bill would arm school protection officers

Missouri lawmakers presented several firearm-related bills Tuesday to the House General Laws Committee that pertain to school protection officers, landlords and tenants, a firearms safety training course and testing requirements for concealed carry weapons (CCW).

Proposed school protection officer legislation was met with much praise from committee members because they say it presents a way to protect their children when they cannot.

“It allows school boards to designate, on a volunteer basis, a teacher or administrator to go through police officer training and then be allowed to carry on premises and basically act as a law enforcement officer on campus and carry a firearm,” said Rep. Rick Brattin, the bill’s sponsor.

Brattin, R-Harrisonville, also sponsored the bill last session, and while it was voted out of committee, it didn’t make it off the House floor.

The bill specifies that the designated teacher or administrator be coined a school protection officer whose responsibilities are in addition to his normal duties.

The legislation is in response to an onslaught of school shootings.

“Since Sandy Hook, we’ve had over 30 school shootings in one year,” he said. “When is it going to stop? We have to instill fear in an active shooter’s mind that there’s someone there who can actually stop them.”

Current Missouri law allows a teacher or administrator to have a CCW with the consent of a school official or school board. Under Brattin's bill, the school protection officer would also carry a concealed weapon, but with the law enforcement training, wouldn't need consent.

Brattin said the school protection officer would attend the same training as law enforcement, paid for by the school district.

They’d have so much training, that Brattin said “they could even quit as a teacher and apply to law enforcement.”

“They are a commissioned officer,” he said.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) testified in favor of the legislation. No one testified in opposition.

Rep. Ron Hicks, R-St. Peters, thanked Brattin for looking out for his children and everyone else’s.

Another legislator told the committee he believes it’s wise legislation.

“It seems like not a week goes by when we don’t hear of one of these incidents (school shootings),” said Rep. Dwight Scharnhorst, R-St. Louis. “They (our children) are our most precious possessions, and I support you (Brattin) wholeheartedly.”

Another bill, presented to the committee and sponsored by Rep. Jeanie Riddle, would prevent landlords from banning tenants to possess firearms on leased property.

“We want to make sure 2nd Amendment rights aren’t violated,” said Riddle, R-Mokane.

The bill specifies that the provisions do not apply to someone renting out a portion of his personal residence. It also states that someone who leases out the property is not liable for damages caused by a renter’s possession or use of a firearm on the property.

Riddle said her intent of the bill is personal protection and the 2nd Amendment right.

“At the end of the day, my philosophy is simple,” she said. “Missourians who can legally own weapons should be able to do so freely.”

The NRA testified in favor of the legislation.

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