New plans for armed school employees in Ga. - FOX 32 News Chicago

New plans for armed school employees in Ga.

By RAY HENRY
Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) - School employees in Georgia could not be punished for refusing to carry firearms under changed legislation being debated by state lawmakers.

A subcommittee on Tuesday changed parts of a plan from Rep. Paul Battles of Cartersville that would add some protections for educators.

The Republican lawmaker introduced his plan after a gunman opened fire in a Connecticut school on Dec. 14, killing six adults and 20 first-graders.

The amended legislation would allow school boards to designate any employee to carry a firearm if they met minimum training and mental health screening requirements.

The new version would also require that firearms be kept on the authorized employee or in a secured box.

"They would be much like a sky marshal on an airplane; you will not know who that person might be. They would either have their weapon concealed or it would be in a lock box somewhere and that would be determined by the local school district," Battles said.

Battles and other officials are trying to provide ways for cash-strapped school systems to better protect students. Some groups have expressed concern about placing guns in the hands of anyone other than police officers in school buildings.

"I'm concerned that there will be more guns in the school. And any time there are guns present, there is always the opportunity for a mishap with those guns. Those guns fall into the wrong hands," said Peggy Marx of Georgia Working Group.

The bill includes a provision specifying that a school employee would not face retribution for refusing a request to carry a gun on campus, Battles said.

The House Public Safety Committee voted 9-2 in favor of the bill on Tuesday. It now goes to the House Rules Committee, which could send the legislation to the full House for a vote.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press Modified. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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