The bill, which initially focused on firearm training for two counties, was expanded to allow teachers in all Tennessee counties to carry a gun in school. Under the new law, teachers would be required 40 hours of training with a private certified firearms instructor. Participants would then be required 16 hours of additional training every year after.
The room was packed and there was much discussion before the vote. Tennessee Department of Education Rep. said they were opposed to the bill and listed numerous concerns.
Officials with the Tennessee Sheriff Association agreed saying they had faith in the training of school resource officers. "The best policy is an SRO," said Terry Ashe, Executive Director of the Tennessee Sheriffs Association. "But... there may not be the funding for that."
The bill's sponsor, Senator Hensley, told NewsChannel 5 he expects some teachers would be more than willing to take on the responsibility.
“We feel like there are individuals out there who want to do the extra training so they can be there to protect themselves and their students,” said Sen. Hensley.
Despite this, the sponsor in the state house, Representative David Byrd said he would still prefer SROs in schools, but the funding just isn't there.