Harwell opposed to arming teachers, unsure of mass shooting's effect on TN gun bills

Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 2:43pm

House Speaker Beth Harwell said she’s unsure what effect last week’s massacre in Connecticut will have on gun laws next year but said she’s opposed to the idea of letting teachers carry guns into the classroom.

“I think it would be asking way too much of our teachers for them to be armed in a classroom, and I’m not in favor of going down that route,” she told reporters on Capitol Hill Wednesday.

“I really think you really have to be highly qualified to handle a gun in a high-stress situation, which is in fact what that was,” she said.

Lawmakers have begun floating several ideas to react to last week’s school shooting which left 26 people dead, many of them children. Ideas so far have ranged from allowing certain faculty and staff to have a gun on campus and require all schools have an armed staff member of some kind.

Harwell said some of those decisions might be best decided by local city and school officials.

She said she’s unsure how the events of last week will affect expected legislation that would allow gun owners to keep their firearms locked in their vehicles parked on work property, which could include college campuses.

“It makes me realize how careful we must be — that we’re impacting a lot of people,” she said of the legislation.

The Tennessee Department of Education has planned a School Safety Summit next month to discuss concerns following the shooting.

21 Comments on this post:

By: ancienthighway on 12/19/12 at 3:03

The solution is much more evolved than more or less gun control. It requires a change in what society considers to be acceptable entertainment. Violence is pervasive in TV, movies, video games, and even music. These are things that engage our children when ever they can. Parents allow the free reign of these forms of entertainment so they can avoid having to actually be parents and instead can play their "grown-up games."

In addition to parents stepping up and restricting the violent entertainment their children see, maybe the state, in cooperation with the television studios and movie theaters and begin to limit the violent shows presented by those venues. Local TV stations could refuse to air violent TV shows and replace them with more restrained shows, either new programming or syndicated shows.

As there has not been any statistically significant evidence of law abiding citizens going on shooting sprees, additional restrictive gun control laws seems as though it would be ineffective. That's not to say that some laws shouldn't be considered and put into place. Limiting or even eliminating the ability for legal sales of military grade weapons capable of burst or fully automatic use shouldn't be out of the question.

By: Badbob on 12/19/12 at 3:13

Thank you for a breath of sanity in the State Government!

By: Bill Bernstein on 12/19/12 at 5:32

So we trust teachers with students but won't trust them with guns? Just who does Ms Harwell think is going to protect students facing an active shooter? The state legislators?

By: Ellie G on 12/19/12 at 6:15

I support Teachers right to arm and defend themselves. I also support their right to choose not to do so.

Perhaps I am a fool, but I choose to take responsibility for my own destiny.

By: yogiman on 12/20/12 at 6:08

One more requirement to be a teacher a course in firearms? I imagine many who would love to teach children would pick another choice of work and we would lose many wonderful teachers for the children.

Firearm education should be like all others, by choice, not demand unless you volunteer for a service that needs and requires it.

Of all the positions in a school I'm sure several would be well qualified and I don't see every teach in a school needing to be armed.

By: Moonglow1 on 12/20/12 at 10:00

Moonglow1: No way should teachers be armed. I support a ban on semi automatic weapons. No other civilized country allows semi automatics. These are military weapons. It is insane to think an armed teacher could have saved those kids. What would have saved them was gun control. It should have been illegal for the shooter's mother to have owned these guns. She should not have allowed her unstable son to shoot.

When these shooters walk in to a theater or a school with body armor who on earth would be able to shoot them down. How stupid to think everyone including teachers should be armed. According to that flawed logic we should arm the clergy, we should arm the mailman, hey let's arm Santa Claus...

The NRA has you hoodwinked. It's not about the second amendment and freedom. It's all about profits for the gun industry. And what an industry! Profits are soaring while the NRA sells snake oil to the ignorant masses.

By: d4deli on 12/20/12 at 11:37

The NRA is so afraid of any kind of "gun control", that they readily lobby for the very things that they preach against in their own safety courses. I think we should call it "gun sanity". I'm not suggesting that no one have guns. People hunt, and legally carry concealed firearms, but why do we allow assault weapons? Anyone can get an assault weapon, and for what? Pretty much, to kill as many people possible in the least amount of time. It's ridiculous! I see both sides of the coin in the gun control issue, and I would plea for some sanity in the issue.

As far as arming teachers? Or allowing them to have weapons in their cars? That's scary. Teachers get their cars broken into, and viola, guns in the hands of the bad guys. And dare I say it..... armed teachers might just be a bad idea considering the students they teach and stress they deal with on a day to day basis.

Everyone, DUCK!

By: TharonChandler on 12/20/12 at 12:09

Why did you delete my post ? It was well written , by me today, and regarding Westmoreland was certainly about the NRA in Tennessee history .

By: WickedTribe on 12/20/12 at 1:02

Students would have easy access to guns if teachers were armed. A single teacher alone in a class could easily have his/her gun taken by a student or students before anyone else could be alerted.

By: TITAN1 on 12/20/12 at 2:52

I agree with a ban on assault weapons. Only problem is those who don't follow the rules will still be able to get them. These weapons will not be in the public eye, but they will still be out there to anyone who has the resources and cash to get them. Not sure what the answer is, but teaching right from wrong at home is a good start.

By: pnance on 12/20/12 at 3:21

I agree with Speaker Harwell -- teachers are one group that does not need additional requirements nor responsibilities. Thank you, Beth, for maintaining a measure of sanity.

Instead, I would look carefully at the violent, desensitizing video games that are marketed to our young men. These too-realistic "games" do not CAUSE tragedies like Newtown; but when combined with poor family lives, cravings for attention, ADHD medication, alcohol, illegal drugs, and other factors that are ever-increasing today -- they make violence a too-common response.

Let's make frustrated loners come up with their own ideas for revenge instead of showing them what to do in the context of a "game."

By: Magnum on 12/20/12 at 4:35

I think the principal and/or other properly trained employee should have access to a locked taser (the type that actually shoot the projectiles). Do I want to take a taser to a gun fight...not really, but I don't think you'll ever get concensus on arming teachers with firearms. At least with a taser, there's a chance of immobilizing the threat until help arrives.

By: ANTIneoliberal on 12/20/12 at 7:25

Why don't you arm the schools with psychologists. Teachers have to deal with mentally ill children and parents on a day to day basis. Then you idiot politicians want to blame teachers for those kids not learning in the classroom. Meanwhile the teachers spend too much time on those kids behavior and ill attempt at school work and the other kids struggle. That only creates more bad behavior. The politicians have a secret agenda to privatize the school system and it is at the cost of your children. They under fund the schools by making them buy tests from a company when that money could be used for helping the large number of mentally struggling kids. Shame on all of you elected people.

By: gdiafante on 12/21/12 at 6:34

I don't think most people who support the assault weapon ban thinks it's a cure all. It's a start. We should also look at the process for legally buying a gun. There is a mental health aspect to all these shootings, we should incorporate some sort of psychological testing as part of the process. And for god sake, we need to stop making it so easy to get guns at gun shows.

There are numerous other issues that can't be regulated, like parents taking responsibility for what their kids process via media or careless gun owners who leave their weapons unsecured. I think it's safe to say that this current generation of kids have had some desensitization to violence, actually I think we all have.

We also have to address the gun culture, which does exist. Guns should not be glamorized, they should be respected.

By: GUARDIAN on 12/21/12 at 10:50

Israel arms their teachers and mass killings don't happen in middle of the most evil muslim nations on earth. Harwell needs to go. She is a closet progressive socialist gun/freedom hater... GUARDIAN-GOD, COUNTRY, FAMILY and FRIENDS. The American Way.

By: djarrell on 12/21/12 at 10:54

1. National news pushes the issue of gun control.

2. State and local news pushes the issue of school security.

3. Teachers know the real issue is MENTAL ILLNESS.

4. Our legislators don't trust teachers.

Next topic?

By: joe41 on 12/22/12 at 12:12

There have been school shootings in schools with armed guards. That doesn't work. So better find another solution. But for the life of me, I cannot find a single person with a plausible reason why anyone needs an assault rifle outside a war zone!


By: adchick on 12/22/12 at 4:14


Where did you hear that Israel arms its teachers? That is absolutely not true, but I have seen that opinion in a few places so I figure someone is reporting it as truth.

Israel posts armed guards all over their cities, including schools. Scent dogs and armed guards patrol restaurants, train stations etc. and conduct searches at will. I seriously doubt that we Americans would be willing to subject ourselves to that "invasion of privacy".


By: courier37027 on 12/23/12 at 3:45

We can rule out weapons and procedures that do not work: Virginia Polytechnic University handbook, Northern Illinois University handbook, Safe Place yellow placards at school, hours of teachers' training for armed attacks, No Weapons signs in Colorado.

By: boyzmom on 12/24/12 at 4:56

As a teacher, I agree with Moonglow1 and Titan1. I have enough responsibility without having this very serious and potentially lethal duty added to the mix. I hear so much from the gun crowd about their right to bear arms; what about MY right not to carry a gun?

By: pswindle on 12/26/12 at 2:44

I would really like to know what it would take for the GOP to get interested in protecting our students. Nobody but the military needs the guns that shoots rounds and rounds of buillets. Who would be blamed if this happened in TN? Maybe our GOP lawmakers.