PHOENIX (Wednesday, December 26, 2012) -- Tom Horne, Arizona Attorney General, today made proposals to reduce the risk of a repetition of the Newtown Massacre. He is joined in these proposals by Sheriff Paul Babeu of Pinal County, Sheriff Tom Sheahan of Mohave County, and Sheriff Joe Dedman of Apache County. Other Sheriffs are also considering participation in this proposed program.
The proposal is that any school that wishes to do so, may designate the Principal or another designee to receive training in the use of firearms and how to handle emergencies such as that which occurred in Newtown. The training would be provided by personnel of the Attorney General’s Office, and of the cooperating Sheriff’s Offices. The training would be free to the schools. The designated individual (no more than one per school) would then be authorized to keep a firearm locked in a secure place, and would have adequate communication to be alerted to an emergency in any part of the school.
Horne added: “The ideal solution would be to have an armed Police Officer in each school. Some of our schools have such officers, referred to as School Resource Officers (SROs’). They are not only there to handle emergencies, but also make friends with the students, and the students learn that Police Officers are people one can confide in, and are not the enemy.
However, budget considerations have caused the Legislature to cut back on the SRO program. It may not be possible to afford a Police Officer in every school. In that case, the next best solution is to have one person in the school trained to handle firearms, to handle emergency situations, and possessing a firearm in a secure location. This proposal is analogous to arming pilots on planes.”
Representative Gowan, Majority Leader of the House Republicans, has agreed to introduce legislation to amend Arizona law needed to make this kind of proposal consistent with the law. Rep. Gowan is from Sierra Vista.
This proposal presents a golden mean between two extremes. One extreme is to allow all teachers to bring guns to school, which could create more dangers than it prevents. The other extreme is to do nothing, which everyone will regret if a preventable incident like Newtown would occur in the future. Under this proposal, there would be only one armed person at the school, who would have received thorough training, at no cost to the school, and that person could at least help diminish the probability of another Newtown. The proposal is also voluntary: No school district or school would have to participate unless it chose to do so.
It should be emphasized that only one person in the school will be designated. This will not involve multiple teachers with guns. The person will be evaluated for fitness for this program. Training will involve not only firearms, but also “use of force” laws, defensive tactics, judgment, simulations, and properly securing the firearm.