MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. - Safety in schools is at the forefront of everyone's minds after the deadly shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. "We've literally had thousands of people reach out to us and say we've got to do something to protect our kids," says Representative William Ainsworth.
Representative William Ainsworth teamed up with parents, teachers, school administrators, and law enforcement agencies to come up with what he says is a way to add more safety in schools. "We want to make sure every school in the state has an SRO officer. Two, we want to make sure that we have adequate funding for our schools, whether it's school cameras making sure the schools are secure."
The result is a bill to give teachers an option to be armed with a gun in the classrooms in case of life-threatening emergency situations. "It allows teachers to go to APOST certified training, 40 hours. If they do that, they're going to be able to carry a concealed weapon on campus. They're going to have to pass a mental health background check, and then they'll have annual recertification. That's what the bill does."
Representative Ainsworth says he has children in the Alabama school district, which is why he is able to directly relate to the parents who are reaching out to him for help. "You know I certainly think there are people who can go through proper training. It's voluntary, it's not going to be mandatory. It'll have some people armed in a school to actually make sure if there is a gunman he's going to be able to be taken out."
Under the bill, teachers or administrators who choose to participate would be responsible for the cost of the firearm and the ammunition. The state would pick up the cost of training.
While many stood with Representative Will Ainsworth's bill idea to allow teachers to carry firearms, a couple of parents in the audience had concerns. "I'm kind of torn on this issue," says parent Tiffany Martin.
Martin is both a parent and teacher in Marshall County. She says she isn't exactly against the idea of the bill, but has reservations. "I'm a little afraid of just a regular teacher, who may of never touched a gun, becoming someone who carries concealed weapons in the classrooms," explains Martin.
Rebecca Raulerson is another parent who handed out her typed concerns at Tuesday morning's meeting. "Our teachers are trained educators. They're not police officers," says Raulerson. She disagrees with the bill allowing guns in the classrooms, especially with expenses falling on the teachers.
"He's talking about asking them to purchase additional guns, biometric cases, all of these things at their own expense. That is not fair to our teachers." Raulerson says she's also not comfortable with a weapon sitting in a classroom with her kids. "My children's teacher need to be concentrated on the children and spending the time with them and not constantly worried about, 'Is the gun secured? Has anybody noticed it? Have the children seen it?'"
Both parents say they're willing to hear more about Representative Ainsworth's idea but feel like arming teachers isn't the solution that's needed to stop school shootings.