Under Bill, Kentucky Schools Could Tap Teachers And Staff To Carry Guns

Jan 26, 2018

Credit Thomas Galvez/Creative Commons

Kentucky schools would be able to designate “marshals” responsible for keeping a gun on campus in order to stop a mass shooting, under a new bill filed in the state legislature.

Republican state Sens. Steve West and Ralph Alvarado filed the bill on Tuesday, the day after two 15-year-olds were killed during a shooting at Marshall County High School in western Kentucky.

West had proposed a similar bill in the past, saying it would help prevent shootings like the one that happened at a Paducah high school 20 years ago.

“If we don’t do anything, then something like Heath High School is going to happen again, and unfortunately that’s what happened yesterday,” West said in an interview the day after the most recent shooting.

It’s a felony to bring a weapon onto school property, but many Kentucky schools already have school resource officers — often off-duty and armed police officers charged with protecting students.

Under Senate Bill 103, public school boards and private schools would be able to appoint teachers or staff to be “school marshals.”

Marshalls would be required to have a concealed carry permit to carry a firearm on school property. The gun could only be used “for the protection of a third person from imminent death or serious physical injury,” and would be required to be kept in a lockbox at all other times.

West said that the proposal wouldn’t be a “silver bullet.”

“This is not going to solve every problem but it increases the chances, it increases a kid’s chances of surviving,” West said. “And if there is someone there with a weapon, they will be able to take down the assailant or at least calm the situation.”

The Kentucky State Police said that there was a school resource officer at Marshall County High School at the time of the shooting spree on Tuesday.

Schools would be allowed to appoint one marshal for every 400 students and would have to develop a plan to respond to active-shooter situations.

“It simply gives school districts another option to provide for security in the school,” West said. “It’s mainly meant for schools that don’t have school resource officers or don’t have the appropriate revenue to pay for those.”

West filed the same bill in the 2016 legislative session, but it failed.