Governor Bill Lee on Wednesday signed into law legislation designed to put more school resource officers in Tennessee’s public and private schools, injecting more money into school security upgrades. , and required each school to submit annual safety plans to the state.
The new law is one of several changes agreed to by the Republican governor and the GOP-dominated Legislature in response to the Nashville school shooting in March that killed six people.
Lee called a special session of the legislature to consider passing legislation that would keep firearms away from people who could harm themselves or others. The special session – scheduled to begin on August 21 – comes after Republican lawmakers ignored the governor’s initial request to take up the proposal in the final days of the regular April session.
So far, Republican lawmakers have largely focused their support on the school safety package. They believe the changes will make private and public schools safer by making it more difficult for a potential attacker to break into school buildings.
“Nothing is more important than Tennessee students and teachers coming home from school safely every day,” Lee said in a statement.
While the new laws received support from some Democratic state lawmakers, others argued that the state should not push to turn schools into mini-fortresses and criticized GOP leaders for to refuse to take up gun control proposals.
Lawmakers, however, have moved to further protect gun and ammunition dealers, manufacturers and dealers against lawsuits. The bill is awaiting action from the governor.
The six people who died during the shooting at The Covenant School included three 9-year-old children. Police say the shooter, Audrey Hale, had been planning the massacre for months. Hale was killed by the police. Officials also said that the school does not have a security guard posted in the school.
Law enforcement officials are now reviewing the writings Hale left behind. Even in the weeks since the shooting, a growing chorus of Republican leaders has demanded that the documents be released to the public to learn more about the motive — which critics contend is a tactic to distract from calls to make firearms more difficult for dangerous people. to get.
The three children killed in the shooting were Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney. The three adults are Katherine Koonce, 60, the head of the school, custodian Mike Hill, 61, and 61-year-old substitute teacher Cynthia Peak.
The legislation was signed into law on Wednesday:
- Requires private school security guards to receive active shooter training before being assigned to a school
- Requires each school district to establish threat assessment teams to better ensure students receive appropriate support services and are connected to behavioral health professionals
- Requires private and public schools to create annual safety plans and submit them to the state.
Photo: Children from The Covenant School, a private Christian school in Nashville, Tenn., hold hands as they are led to a reunification site at Woodmont Baptist Church after a deadly shooting at their school on Monday, March 27, 2023. 100 people have been killed in mass shootings so far in 2023, an average of one mass killing a week. (AP Photo/Jonathan Mattise, File)
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