Legislators may allow guns in schools - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Legislators may allow guns in schools

District 6 School Board Member Darrel Ealum District 6 School Board Member Darrel Ealum

State lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow some school employees to carry guns on campus.  But not all Dougherty County School Board members are convinced that's the right thing to do. The Elementary School Protection Act would focus on the most vulnerable students.

Some lawmakers in Georgia are pushing legislation they say would make schools safer. "I surely believe that there should be an additional consideration to having a greater security presence at our schools. And exactly how we're going to do that- I think we need to look at it, we need to look at it very closely," said District 6 School Board Member Darrel Ealum.

Dougherty County School board chairman Carol Tharin says the tragedy at Sandy Hook has pushed them to look at their current plans, especially at the elementary school level. "It's a very sensitive subject and a very serious subject. We want to do everything we can to keep our children safe as they can possibly be. Nothing is going to make them 100% safe."

The school massacre also sparked the Elementary School Protection Act. It would allow school boards in Georgia to decide whether to let elementary school employees carry guns on campus. It would require those employees to have five years of law enforcement experience and participate in a peace officer training course. But Dougherty County school board members aren't sold on the bill just yet.

"I don't think that makes a lot of sense because I don't know that we have any teachers in our system who are former law enforcement people. So I think to apply that to a situation would be really hard to do," said Tharin.

"We need to be looking at the possibility of higher levels of security at the elementary schools. But on this bill, we really got to wait and see exactly what the Senator is talking about and suggesting before obviously we as a board can be considering as to whether we think it's a good idea or not and take action on it," said Ealum.

Right now Dougherty County School police officers are not stationed full time at elementary schools. They're dispatched as needed.

School board members plan to discuss school safety again in the next four to six weeks. 

All of this talk about guns in schools has sparked a town hall meeting.  Albany city commissioner Jon Howard is hosting the forum to allow folks to share their opinions and learn about the proposed legislation.  It's scheduled for 10am Saturday at the East Albany Community Center, located at 1721 East Oglethorpe Blvd.


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