Tenn. senator renews call for allowing teachers to have guns

Tenn. senator renews call for allowing teachers to have guns (Image 1)

A Tennessee state lawmaker is renewing his bill to allow teachers to carry their weapons in classrooms.
Senator Stacey Campfield has had similar bills in the past, but he feels there now has been a “wake up call” with the Connecticut shootings.

The Knoxville Republican reiterated his long held idea to Nashville's News 2 Tuesday that “gun free zones are just target-rich environments.”

His measure, which has failed in previous attempts to move it through the Tennessee General Assembly, is still being worked on, but Senator Campfield plans for it to allow teachers and staff with handgun carry permits, with proper training, to bring their weapons to school.

The senator who once seemed to be a lone voice for such bills is not alone anymore, especially at places where firearms are sold such as Guns and Leather in Hendersonville.

On Tuesday it was difficult to find a parking spot outside the store.

Once inside, you'll find record sales, and in the basement a firing range where some have never shot until gun until now.

“First time firing a gun,” beamed Janice Ferrett of nearby Portland as she aimed at a firing range target.

She planned to be here as a way to celebrate five years of being free from breast cancer, but then the Connecticut school shootings happened on Friday.

“I want to learn how to shoot a gun, learn how to protect myself, my children [and] my five grandchildren,” she told Nashville's News 2.

Janice said she supports the proposed Tennessee bill allowing teachers and staff with permits and training to carry their weapons in school, adding that her daughter works as a teacher's aide.

“I don't think any other way this could have played out different unless these teachers had have been armed,” she said in a halting voice. “They did everything for these kids and they could not help them.”

Her instructor at the firing range said “we got to have this discussion.”

Chris Smith is retired from the Air Force Special Ops.     

“I would love to be involved any way I can in the training of teachers and faculty members,” he said.

He and the owner of Guns and Leather are thinking of offering extensive firearms training free to any educator.

“We would definitely do that for educators, we are looking at doing a free one or a greatly discounted one,” said owner Dennis Williams.

He hopes the bill allowing permitted and trained teachers to carry guns in schools gets a serious look in Tennessee or anywhere.

“That teacher who was a hero was trying to protect kids, but she had no chance,” added the gun store owner.

Similar bills from state Senator Stacey Campfield have failed in past years, and he'll likely face opposition from leadership in his own party, like Republican Governor Bill Haslam.

Opposition is also likely to come from most school districts, teacher groups and various business interests.  

But people such as Ferrett hope Tennessee lawmakers will take another look

“I would want my daughter to have a handgun in school. I would want the teachers and the principal to have one, too,” she said.

East Tennessee Senator Frank Nicely is also proposing a similar bill.

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