INDIANAPOLIS -- A controversial bill that would provide voluntary firearm and active shooter training for teachers and some other employees in public schools fielded testimony and debate Wednesday in the State Senate Education and Career Development Committee.

Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, authored and presented House Bill 1253, which would provide a grant for teachers to receive at least 48 hours in marksmanship, first aid, active shooter and other training.

“If they take these courses, they are better trained than any rookie graduate from a law enforcement academy,” Lucas said. 

The bill's opponents, which include the Indiana State Teachers Association and the American Federation of Teachers, reiterated their stance that students and teachers are made less safe by the presence of guns in the classroom.

“In order to turn the tide of these incidents, we need to stop it before it gets into the schools,” said Stephen Miller, a guitar instructor at the University of Notre Dame.

If the bill were enacted, Miller said, it would distract from the need to address causes of mass shootings -- access to firearms and mental illness.

Aron Bright, an Avon High School teacher and firearm instructor, said the bill is taking a “common sense approach to a difficult situation.”

“The right people to handle these situations are already in the classroom,” Bright said. “I’ll stand with these people any day.” 

Lucas asked the dozens of people in the room to imagine what they would do if somebody tried to shoot up the Senate chamber.

“You’re going to call someone with a gun to come take care of it," he said. "Other than that, you’re a sitting duck.”

Indiana law currently allows local school boards to approve employees to carry guns on school grounds if they pass a background test and psychological screening.

House Bill 1253 is expected to receive a vote in the last Senate committee hearing next week.

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