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General Assembly

Guns-in-school legislation scrapped

GOP guts amendment after outcry; idea to be studied

– A move to require armed personnel at every school in Indiana was gutted Thursday by House Republicans, the same caucus that initially pushed the measure.

Both Democrats and Republicans applauded after accepting an amendment to remove provisions regarding armed school protection officers. That position could have been filled by a teacher or other school employee with minimal firearms training under the bill before it was changed.

Instead, the issue will be studied by a state school safety board created in the legislation, with recommendations coming before Dec. 1.

“We are moving very, very rapidly with the bill as currently written,” said Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso. “We don’t want to hurt someone with an unintended consequence.”

The move came as a surprise after the House Education Committee and House Ways and Means Committee had signed off on the concept in recent days, including inserting an opt-out provision.

GOP House Speaker Brian Bosma – away recuperating from knee surgery when the issue arose – said it was clear in caucus that members wanted to have more time to examine the issue.

Bosma said there were concerns on both sides of the issue, and it was clear there were key misunderstandings about the bill among the public and also legislators.

The move came a few hours after Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, indicated a desire to push forward with the measure as long as there was local control, training and funding attached.

“Whether we wait another year and study it and then an incident happens, shame on all of us,” he said.

Long said he wanted the legislature to pass the bill and allow the school safety board to continue the planning process after session, with the full program in place by this fall.

“I don’t think we’re going too fast,” he said. “I don’t want to wait because people say you just haven’t thought it through correctly.”

Legislative rules, however, would make it difficult to revive the language in conference committee because it has not passed either chamber.

Senate Bill 1, which still contains a provision on school resource officers, now moves for a vote by the House.

School resource officers are law enforcement workers assigned to districts or schools on a voluntary basis by schools.

nkelly@jg.net

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