Benji Hardy of the Legislative Digest was on hand for a legislative committee discussing of opening the door to armed staff members in Arkansas public schools by licensing them as security guards.
Sen. Jeremy Huthinson is talking of ending authority of a state board for security guard licensure and turning that job over to the State Police. He wants school districts to be able to arm staff for security, though now he says he doesn’t want to have teachers doing this, as Clarksville was allowed to do in a compromise that grandfathered a handful of districts with existing security guard licenses.
The discussion included a disclosure that the licensing board sometimes overrules State Police background check findings and allows licenses for some people with misdemeanor convictions.
Hutcinson thinks the need for more armed staff is urgent and he intends to push to get it added to the agenda of the fiscal session next month.
“I personally think that the last person who should be carrying a gun is a person in the act of teaching,” he said.
But Hutchinson also said the matter is urgent enough to demand immediate action, since some school districts that now want to license staff as armed security are unable to do so given the PIPSA board’s September decision. He said support from the legislators he’s spoken with is “robust.”
“I think the general consensus is that there are schools that would like to have some type of armed personnel on their campuses, and if — god forbid — something should happen in one of those schools that couldn’t do it because the legislature failed to act this year and waited until 2015…I don’t think any of us want to live with that. So I think we’ll move forward during the fiscal session.”