Bedford Co. Officials Disagree on Arming School Employees

Nov. 1, 2013

Bedford County supervisors and educators are at odds over a proposal to allow teachers to carry guns at school.

Media outlets reported Friday that the proposal to give school districts the option was included in a list of legislative priorities the Board of Supervisors approved for the General Assembly session that starts in January. The vote was 6-1.

Supervisor John Sharp said the move could make campuses safer without a big cost to taxpayers. He would like the state to move away from making schools "gun-free zones" by no longer restricting those who want to carry, he said.

School Board Chairman Gary Hostutler said Thursday that he's very much against the idea. He complained that school board members weren't consulted about the proposal.

"I don't know of any employer that allows weapons in their office buildings or factories," Hostutler said. "Why should schools be the exception to that?"

Supervisor Sharp said the intent is not to override the school board, which would have final say in the matter, but to give more local control to jurisdictions.

Hostutler said approving gun use among the staff at schools sounds like a "very complicated" measure that presents many unknowns.

"You might solve one problem but you are going to create a whole host of others," said Hostutler. "It's hard to visualize kindergarten teachers packing."

School Board Vice Chair Julie Bennington said the best way to protect children in schools is to have a stronger presence of resource officers.

Bedford County's three high schools and three middle schools have resource officers, but elementary schools do not.

Sheriff Mike Brown said if the General Assembly were to pass a law allowing teachers to carry guns, he would only support it if they are as properly trained as his deputies.

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