Updated April 25, 2019
On the final day of the legislative session, a bill that would have funded specialized teacher firearm training died.
The sticking point for lawmakers: an amendment that makes the training a requirement for school districts that chose to arm teachers.
When originally written, the bill provided state funding for an optional 39.5-hour teacher firearm training. A handful of Indiana school districts already have chosen give staff access to firearms and provide training, such as Jay County Schools.
In the Senate, the bill was amended to include a mandated personality test and require staff consent for active shooter training with projectiles.
The bill’s author Rep. Jim Lucas (R-Seymour) says he could not support the amendment that makes the firearm training a requirement for teachers who chose to carry a weapon. Lucas says this amendment makes HB 1253 a gun control bill.
"You would hate to see it not make it out of the session but I would much rather, again, kill a good bill -- even if its mine -- than see a bad bill progress," Lucas says.
If the bill dies, active shooter training with projectiles would not require written consent from staff who wish to opt-in. There is also language in HB 1253 that prohibits this type of training with students.
“We are pleased that teacher firearm training was defeated this session. There are more appropriate and effective approaches to keep our schools safe and address student needs such as improved mental health resources for students and a trauma-informed strategy to address their unique challenges," Indiana State Teachers Association President Teresa Meredith wrote in a statement. "While we lament the legislature didn’t act to put guardrails on active shooter training, we will continue to work on the local level to protect teachers and students now and into the future.”
The language that originally banned this type of training was put into a wide-ranging school safety funding bill, HB 1004. Then, the same bill was amended to require consent for active shooter training with projectiles.
Sen. Jeff Raatz (R-Richmond) proposed the amendment to allow for projectiles. He says it should be an option for this type of training.
“It’s got to do with reality, and making sure they experience the emotions and the adrenaline and everything that happens during the training, but it's not required,” Raatz said during the Senate education committee.
Ultimately, these amendments were stripped from HB 1004 during conference committee.
The discussion around projectiles in active shooter training was sparked by an Indiana State Teachers Association testimony that revealed teachers were shot with metal pellets at a northern Indiana elementary school.
Lucas says he expects to bring this bill back for consideration in the 2020 legislative session.