Lawmakers may let school employees pack heat

Posted at: 01/25/2013 5:51 PM
Updated at: 01/25/2013 6:29 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

How about a schoolteacher packing a concealed weapon in the classroom? Good idea? Bad idea? That's what state lawmakers are mulling over at the State Capitol.

Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort, a Republican from Sandia Park, is the sponsor of a bill that would allow a school employee to carry a concealed weapon on school property. The idea is to provide more security and prevent a school massacre like the one in Newtown, Connecticut.

If the bill passes, school administrators could designate one of their employees to bring a loaded, concealed firearm on campus - if that employee has a concealed-carry permit.

There are sharp divisions over this legislation at the Capitol.

"I don't have a problem with that," said Rep. Bill Rehm, an Albuquerque Republican who is a retired police officer. "Would it increase security in the schools? Oh, absolutely."

"More guns on school campuses? That's not what teachers want," said Albuquerque Teachers Federation president Ellen Bernstein. "It's not going to solve the problem."

"It's not a bad thing at all if you have a person who's trained and they know what they're doing," said Rehm. "You've done a background check on them and they can own a gun and they've gone through the training - no problem."

"I think this is the absolute wrong direction to go," said Bernstein. "If we want to really address a very serious issue, and that is school safety, then we're going to give social workers and counselors to the schools. We're going to make sure they have a lot of services for the community."

State law prohibits firearms on school property, unless they are in the possession of police officers or school security guards.