NC Lawmaker Wants To Resurrect Bill To Arm School Personnel

Jun 5, 2018

Rep. Larry Pittman (R-Cabarrus) addresses reporters Tuesday, June 5, 2018 in an effort to resurrect his school-safety legislation.
Credit Rusty Jacobs / WUNC

State Representative Larry Pittman said he thinks the North Carolina General Assembly's Republican leadership is stifling his school-safety measure out of election-year fears.

"This is a failure to act that I fear may one day cost lives that could have been saved," the Cabarrus County Republican said at a press conference Tuesday.

Pittman wants to resurrect his bill, which was filed last week and promptly buried in the house rules committee.

The measure would authorize local school districts to hire personnel, including teachers, armed with concealed weapons and specially trained in active-shooter scenarios to help protect students, faculty and other people on school property.

House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) blocked debate on gun-control measures offered by Democrats earlier this week as the House considered other school-safety legislation. Moore ruled the Democratic amendments were out of order.

Credit NC General Assembly

Rep. Pittman said debate should be allowed on all aspects of school safety, even ones he opposes.

"I've often said if I were speaker every bill would be heard, period," Pittman said at Tuesday's press conference. "So, yeah, we probably ought to hear those bills but I'd do everything I could to kill them, to be honest with you."

Pittman acknowledged his bill would face some opposition, even from law enforcement.

"[The North Carolina] Sheriffs' Association, I'm sure, will probably not be in favor of this, that sort of thing. But I don't work for them, I work for the citizens whose lives I'm trying to protect," Pittman said.

Another co-sponsor of the bill, Craven County Republican Michael Speciale, pointed out at the press conference that the bill does not require schools to hire armed, trained personnel.

"It doesn't mandate that the schools do it, it doesn't mandate that the teachers carry," Speciale said.

"What it does is it allows it," he said. "It takes the state out of the position of telling the local school districts what's best for their kids and it lets the local school boards make those decisions. How they make those decisions would be up to them."

The state House passed a school safety bill on Monday that will now go to the Senate.

The measure would require schools to undergo annual vulnerability assessments and would mandate additional training for school resource officers.