Local legislators would support bill allowing guns in schools

'Allow a teacher to be armed'

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Two local lawmakers say they support allowing teachers and school administrators to be armed in light of the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

Rep. Jerry O’Neil, R-Columbia Falls, said he would support a bill that would give school boards the authority to allow teachers and other school personnel to carry weapons.

“We should allow a teacher to be armed,” he said.

O’Neil said other parameters, such as training in firearm use and safety, would be up to the school boards.

State Sen.-elect Dee Brown, R-Coram, a former school teacher, also said she would support legislation that would allow armed teachers and school staff, but they would need training.

“I wouldn’t be opposed” to a bill like that, she said.

O’Neil said the problem goes beyond guns and gun violence, however. He said more needs to be done to strengthen families. He once supported a bill that would not allow parents to divorce unless they had a reason or both agreed to the divorce.

O’Neil noted that Connecticut gunman Adam Lanza, 20, was from a divorced home. Lanza apparently got the weapons he used from his mother, who enjoyed shooting sports. He shot her to death in her bed and then went to the school.

O’Neil claimed his divorce law would keep more families together, but it never passed. He said there also needs to a be a law that at least attempts to keep people on psychotropic drugs away from guns.

The lawmakers’ views aren’t far from the National Rifle Association’s position. The NRA supports a law that would put armed police officers in every school in the country. The NRA also blames violent video games and other media for the shootings.

Neither O’Neil or Brown favor more gun control in Montana. Brown said Connecticut has some of the strictest gun controls in the country.

Another suggestion is that school districts be allowed to request separate security tax levies. But Brown said that could result in some schools having more security than others, since not all levies are approved by voters.

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