In response to the school shooting in Sandy Hook, South Dakota took action and signed a bill to allow teachers and school staff to carry firearms. Governor Dennis Daugaard put the bill into law on Friday giving school boards the permission to allow guns into the school building, according to the Argus Leader.
While other states have some outlines to allow guns to be used in schools, South Dakota would become the first state to sign a law that allows teachers to carry guns. The law suggests that school districts may allow employees, security guards, or volunteers to serve as a “sentinel” who can carry a firearm in the school. However, school districts don’t necessarily have to follow it.
Dennis Daugaard told the NYTimes that he was fully supportive of the law allowing school districts to decide whether they want to carry firearms to protect their schools. If they do decide to go through with it, then they would need to undergo the same weapons training as the law enforcement. “I think it does provide the same safety precautions that a citizen expects when a law enforcement officer enters onto a premises,” Governor Daugaard said.
With the announcement of the law, it has faced some harsh criticism from the education community. Don Kirkegaard, a superintendant at the Meade School district, said that he doesn’t support the new law and would rather have a summer session discussing school safety. “I just wish … everybody would have talked a little bit together before we started passing legislation,” he said. “I don’t believe there will be very many districts, at least to begin with, who are going to jump at putting sentinels in a school until they’ve done a lot of research.”
Kirkegaard also noted that there is a disadvantage for putting it up to a vote in small areas where if there are only about 50 people on the school board, then only 10 of them may support the bill.