A spokesman for Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced Monday that Nixon has sent letters to all 520 public school superintendents in the state, opposing legislation that would allow teachers with concealed weapons permits to carry their weapon at school.
The bill for the 2013 legislative session was filed following the Newtown, CT shooting which left 26 people, including 20 children, dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It is co-sponsored by House Republican leaders, including House Speaker Tim Jones and Majority Leader John Diehl.
“Here in Missouri we have a strong framework of laws to protect students and educators, such as the Missouri Safe Schools Act, which passed with broad bipartisan support in 1996. Current law also allows local school boards to prohibit guns in their classrooms. This is a time-tested and solid foundation that we should reinforce, not undermine," Governor Nixon wrote.
“That is why I have serious concerns about recently introduced legislation that proposes not only to arm teachers, but to do so by taking away the authority of local school districts to keep guns out of classrooms," Nixon added. "More can and should be done to enhance school safety, but this legislation would put our children at risk and limit the ability of local school districts to keep their schools safe."
Proponents have argued that "gun-free zones" have essentially painted schools as potential targets.
The Governor's letter does not address the National Rifle Association's proposal to post armed security at every school. However, Asa Hutchinson, the former Arkansas Congressman and Homeland Security official now leading the NRA's "School Shield" effort, told ABC's This Week program that he did not favor the idea of having teachers armed in schools.
"They go to educate these young people, Hutchinson told ABC's George Stephanopoulos. "They're not there to carry concealed weapons and provide that protection. They have to fulfill that role, and they do it very bravely sometimes, but I think it's much better to have a retired police officer or a retired military person who's been trained for sensitive environments that can provide the protection, an added level of security and other security measures, not just that. Let the teachers teach and let others protect," he said.
Creve Coeur State Rep. Jill Schupp, a Democrat told Patch she disagreed with the state proposal, while State Senator John Lamping, a Republican, said he believed the issue of gun control would likely be addressed at the federal level and not the state legislature.
Governor Nixon closed his letter to the superintendents saying he would "engage with Missourians to find common sense solutions to keep our schools safe."