Bill would allow designated school employee to carry gun

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Within hours of learning about the shooting at Marshall County High School on Tuesday, a Kentucky lawmaker filed a bill to allow all schools to have an armed employee, even if its not a law enforcement officer.

The bill's sponsors, Sen. Stephen West and Sen. Ralph Alvarado, say it aims to step up school safety through the state.

It is a felony to have a weapon on school property in Kentucky. Some lawmakers say being gun free zones is something that makes schools appealing to those wanting to do harm.

Under Senate Bill 103, boards would have an opportunity to appoint "school marshals." Marshals would have to be an employee of the district or private school and must hold a concealed carry licence.

The marshals would have the authority to have a gun and use them if there is a violent attack at the school. Sen. West filed the same bill two years ago, giving it another try in the legislature this year with Sen. Alvarado.

The Republican lawmakers say the bill would give school boards or governing bodies another option to help protect children in their schools.

Restrictions in the bill include one marshal per 400 students and staff, as well as what types of guns marshals could bring.

The senators also say the marshals generally would be required to keep their guns in a locked and secured area that is readily accessible to them.

"There are a lot of schools that already have officers who can do that," said Sen. Alvarado. "There are some smaller schools that do not because of funding or other things, this would allow them to create that if they want to. Obviously, we have seen a tragedy just occur two days ago, we've got to do something. Our schools are soft targets anymore. We can take all the precautions that we want and need, but we can never be too safe."

Governor Matt Bevin says he has not yet looked at all of the details of the bill to say whether he fully supports it or not. However, he does say he appreciates the motivation behind it. "What can we do to make our schools safer? We shouldn't as parents be concerned about our children going to school nor should children or teachers going to those schools be concerned about the fact that while they are a gun free zone it is what makes them in some measure to those who want to do a harm a more vulnerable target. That is a problem," said Governor Bevin.

The Kentucky Center for School Safety says their stance is that nobody should be armed in a school unless they are a law enforcement officer

"If we have a staff member that is trained to be a teacher and not a police officer trying to wield a gun around...I've got a problem with that," explained Jon Akers.

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