PHOENIX, AZ (USATODAY) -- New legislation that would allow Arizona teachers to carry guns at school was formally announced Tuesday.
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne and state Rep. David Stevens, R-Sierra Vista, filed House Bill 2656 late last week. It is based on a proposal Horne made shortly after the school massacre in Newtown, Conn., in December.
The bill proposes to allow a school district or charter school governing board to designate one or more school staff members to carry a firearm on a school campus. Designated individuals would have to go through an annual three-day training program coordinated by the Attorney General's Office and Department of Public Safety.
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The Attorney General's Office would maintain a public list of school campuses participating in the program. Participation would be optional. The school would have to provide a secure firearm locker on campus for the weapons.
Horne said the ideal solution would be to have a school resource officer, who are trained law enforcement officers, in each school. But he said it is not financially possible for the state to do that.
"This bill is what I call the golden mean between two extremes," Horne said.
One extreme would be to do nothing, he said. The other would be to let all teachers carry firearms without regulation.
"That's dangerous because a kid could get his hands on a gun," he said.
The Arizona Education Association, an advocacy group for public schools, has opposed Horne's suggestion, but Horne said not all teachers take that position.
A retired teacher and a current substitute teacher attended the news conference at the state capitol in support of the bill.
"No school should be an unsafe place," said substitute teacher Teresa Ottesen Binder. "Having an armed staff person will make schools safer."
She said she's spoken to dozens of Arizona teachers who support being allowed to carry firearms at schools, particularly in rural areas where law enforcement can't arrive as quickly.
Retired Washington High School English teacher Suzanne Jordan agreed.
"I feel so sorry for teachers who are out there like sitting ducks," she said.
The bill has not yet been scheduled for a committee hearing.