UPDATE: Arming teachers is one-step closer to happening here in Tennessee. A proposal would allow one school employee to carry a gun for every 75 students enrolled at a school. That person would need to maintain a state-issued handgun carry permit and complete 40 hours of training. If passed, it is up to school districts to implement it. 

Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond and Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson have discussed the possibility of arming Hamilton County teachers if the proposal passes. The two have mixed opinions on if that's a good idea.

“There is no foolproof method; there is no 100% guarantee that somebody is not going to be harmed. It is a risk of living,” said Sheriff Jim Hammond.

A bill that would allow Tennessee teachers to carry guns to school passed its first hurdle Wednesday, sparking conversation in Hamilton County about if the measure would save the lives of children. “That is an additional responsibility you would be putting on a teacher. Is that appropriate? That is a strong question that has got to be asked,” said Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson.

As a father of two Hamilton County students, Superintendent Johnson said he is against it. But as the school district's leader, he said he has to do what is best for students. Arming teachers is last on his list. “We feel like the best solution is to find dollars to make our campuses more secure, enhance our safety programs. That is where we focus.”

There are over 40 thousand students in Hamilton County public schools. There are 29 armed school resource officers on 32 Hamilton County campuses. Sheriff Hammond wants armed school resource officers on all 79 campuses. But says it is unrealistic. “The reality is we have to look at what resources we have and what the cost is. For me to arm enough SRO in schools would be an additional approximately 4 million dollars on the budget locally,” said Hammond.

The sheriff said arming teachers is a conversation that needs to include community input. He said it could prevent more deaths in the next senseless school shooting. “I'm a realist and I know people will say I am comfortable with a cop and not with a teacher that is an argument we will have to discuss.”

Tennessee lawmakers unveiled another bill this week. The proposed School Safety Act of 2018 would provide funding to help pay for more off-duty officers to work as school resource officers. The goal would be to have two additional officers per school.


PREVIOUS STORY: Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond weighed in Thursday on the now-national debate of arming teachers at schools.

In a statement sent via email, Hammond said arming teachers was not his "first choice… nor is it my second or third."

But Hammond also acknowledged that he must consider "all viable options to protect our children and our schools."

The funding of adding new School Resource Officers (SRO) to could cost taxpayers $4-5 million dollars.

Hammond concluded the statements saying he and his deputies were "committed to working with our local, state, and federal elected officials, local law enforcement our local school board and Department of Education, including our teachers and parents, to find the best, most appropriate way to move forward and protect our children and our schools."