ATLANTA — Schools across the country are looking again at arming classroom teachers.
In Georgia, it is already legal.
So, where are the armed teachers in Georgia? Are there any?
11Alive asked a veteran kindergarten teacher in metro Atlanta if she knew of any teachers, anywhere in Georgia, who arm themselves in the classroom.
Her answer: she knows of none.
“We are educators. We are not law enforcement,” said Lisa Morgan on Thursday.
Morgan is also president of the Georgia Association of Educators (G.A.E.), and she said that even though a state law was passed back in 2014 empowering local school boards in Georgia to arm their teachers, she is aware of only about four school districts that did so, at least for a time.
Fannin County Schools was one of them, approving the policy in 2018.
Back then, Elliott Southworth was one of the parents who told 11Alive he wanted his child’s teacher to carry a gun in class.
“I think Fannin will be much less likely to have an incident, now,” Southworth said then. “When you create a gun-free zone, you’ve taken away all the security.”
11Alive is working to reach Fannin County Schools' administrators about the impact of the policy, and if it is still in place.
However, almost all Georgia school boards are still declining to arm their teachers.
Morgan and the G.A.E said they hope that does not change.
“We believe the only individuals in a school building who are armed should be properly trained law enforcement,” she said.
Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords’ gun-control organization, Giffords Law Center, lists Georgia among 28 states that allow classroom teachers to be armed.
The group lists dozens of gun accidents in schools across the country in the past five years, partly as a result of teachers mishandling the guns.
Backers of Georgia’s law insist that the more armed teachers there are in a school, the quicker the response to armed intruders will be.
The Georgia School Boards Association said Thursday it does not track how many of the 181 public school boards across the state do have policies in place to arm their teachers, or how many might be considering it, now, because of the mass shooting in the elementary school in Texas.
The spokesman for the GSBA wrote 11Alive in an email, “We have not heard any conversations that districts are looking at this again, but that does not mean they haven’t.”
G.A.E. will oppose any school boards that do try to adopt it.
“Our schools are a reflection of the communities around them,” Morgan said, “and we must solve the problem of gun violence in our communities. That's how it enters our schools.”