More than two dozen Missouri lawmakers are backing legislation that would allow teachers and administrators with concealed gun permits to carry weapons in schools.
The legislation comes after 20 students and six adults were killed by a shooter at a Connecticut elementary school on Friday, Dec. 14.
The Missouri bill is sponsored by Republican Rep. Mike Kelley, of Lamar, and is supported by top lawmakers. Kelley's 24 co-sponsors include House Speaker Tim Jones, of Eureka, and Majority Leader John Diehl, of Town and Country.
Missouri law currently prohibits concealed guns at schools unless approved by the local school board or a school official. This proposal would change that. Open carry would still be barred.
Earlier this week, Republican Rep. Stanley Cox, of Sedalia, suggested that people might think twice about attacking schools if they knew that teachers or administrators could be carrying guns.
Rep. Rick Brattin, a Republican from Harrisonville, said the bill would protect kids from criminals who don't care about the law.
"It's up to us to protect those most vulnerable: our kids that are sitting in these classrooms," said Brattin, who carries a handgun with him routinely. "You see what happens if they're not able to protect themselves."
Brattin tried unsuccessfully to get a similar bill passed last session before the Newtown tragedy. He believes recent events will spur action and create an even better bill.
"I wanted to start more broadly so we can all come together and negotiate and come up with something really good for Missouri," Brattin said. "But not the wild, wild West."
But many educators say arming teachers and principals isn't the answer.
Andrea Flinders, head of the teachers union in Kansas City, said more intervention is needed with troubled students, such as additional psychologists and social workers aiding students.
"What we're not doing is we're not identifying our kids early and getting them the help they need," she said.
She said additional mental health resources are what is needed, not allowing teachers to pack heat in the classroom.
"I think it's unfortunate that people think this is the answer," Flinders said. "It's a much more complex answer than just filing a bill to put guns in teachers' hands. I think teachers understand that violence isn't the answer, that guns are not the answer to the problem that our children have."
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) and The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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