Lawmakers Debate Armed Officers in Schools

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Legislation to put more gun carrying officers in Mississippi schools is facing some opposition as it meets its final hurdle before being sent to the governor.

As lawmakers work on a plan to put more armed guards inside, opponents say not so fast.

"When I was growing up, kids saw police officers as their friends," Rep. John Hines from Greenville says. "This could create an environment where police and students become adversarial rather than allies."

Hines is talking about a piece of legislation currently being negotiated between House and Senate chambers. Under it, the state would set up a $7.5 million grant through the Department of Education. The option to have more armed guards would then be up to individual schools districts. Those districts would get a $10,000 grant and must put up matching funds to help pay for the additional guards.

"Unfortunately in the world we live in, there are people who will try to take advantage of any situation and that's why we have to have security," Senator Lydia Chassaniol from Winona says.

Lawmakers in support of the bill says it's simply a way to provide lacking protection for children.

Senator Joey Fillingane is one of the bill's co-authors and says criminals are not going to pay attention to current law. With easy access into public schools, he says those criminals need a better deterrent.

"If they're not going to abide by the law and they're going to bring guns in the school and shoot our children and our teachers then I think somebody ought to be shooting back at them," Fillingane says.

Opponents, however, point to other investments, like additional resources and counseling services, calling the legislation a knee jerk reaction to recent school shootings.

"Guns should never, never be on campus," according to Jed Oppenheim with the Southern Poverty Law Center. "More guns equal a greater likely hood of guns being used."

Lawmakers only have a few days to come to an agreement if they want this to become law.