Teachers with guns

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JEFFERSON CITY - Under the proposed Safe Schools Act, school districts must notify parents if they choose to not authorize any teachers or staff to carry a concealed firearm. 

The bill would require districts to post a sign if they decide to arm teachers. It would state, "Under Missouri law, this school and its staff are authorized to meet threats to student safety with deadly force if necessary."

Missouri school districts are allowed to arm and train certain teachers and staff members. The bill would help notify parents whether the district is actually arming its staff.

Jefferson City Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Larry Linthacum says his district does not allow teachers to carry firearms.

"Right now we want our teachers to focus on teaching and learning," he said.

The only people allowed to carry a gun in Jefferson City Public Schools are law enforcement officials. 

Linthacum said helping kids feel safe is the main priority.

"If students do not feel like it is a safe learning environment, you can have the greatest lesson in the world and kids wouldn't be able to be engaged," Linthacum said. "We take it very seriously."

Jenny Reinkmeyer, who has three children in school, said the best solution is for districts to hire armed security officers rather than putting the pressure of carrying a firearm on teachers.

"The ideal decision should be to have security officers that are armed at entrances and to have metal detectors," Reinkmeyer said.

She said she doesn't oppose arming teachers but feels ongoing training is needed. 

"I honestly think if a teacher is going to have a weapon at school they need monthly or quarterly training to refresh," Reinkmeyer said. 

Another local parent said she feels it's key for teachers to feel prepared and equip to carry a firearm.

"Don't arm a teacher that isn't comfortable with a gun, but if a teacher is willing and trained, let them," Tarilyn Belangerut said. "When the bad guy is on home turf, why not give adults the opportunity to protect our children."

The proposed bill would require a school district to get information about a potential new hire from the school the person previously worked for. Schools would have to provide information about the employee that relates to violations such as abusive behavior.