Indiana lawmakers advance firearm safety training for teachers

by mcardinal

Lauren C. Moye, FISM News

Indiana lawmakers advanced legislation that offers voluntary teacher firearm safety training at the state’s expense last week.

House Bill 1177 would allow teachers or other school employees to complete 40 hours of firearm training with a qualified instructor at the state’s expense. The program would be completely voluntary and would also need the approval of a school board or charter school to approve the training.

“When faced with a life-or-death situation, simple drills, and basic training can make all the difference,” State Rep. Jim Lucas, the primary sponsor of the bill, said. “With this legislation, schools have the option to send their teachers through a state-certified course designed to teach them how to respond to a threat like an active-shooter situation.”

The legislation passed Indiana’s House on Feb. 14 in a 71-24 vote. It has since been referred to the Senate for a vote.

In creating the bill, the GOP congressman solicited the input of law enforcement and public safety experts. He has described it as a “commonsense move” to provide more tools for schools during the critical moments a gunman first opens fire.

Indiana already allowed teachers to carry guns on school property. This law would allow those individuals who are already carrying to become better equipped to defend students by allowing state-provided safety grant money to go towards training.

The bill also allows teachers at nonpublic schools to also access these funds for firearm training.

Since 2013, Indiana has provided schools with $133 million in matching grants to improve school safety. So far in 2023, Indiana schools in Jackson, Bartholomew, Washington, and Scott counties have received over $709,000 in school safety grants.

Two amendments promoted by State Rep. Edward DeLaney, a Democrat, failed. One of these proposed striking the bill’s clause that would make the volunteer training confidential unless otherwise required by law. Only 29 voted in favor of this amendment compared to 67 ‘nays.’

Another DeLaney amendment would have required the state to create a specialized firearms instructor course for the purpose of grants that would be administered through the law enforcement academy. This one also failed with a 30-66 vote.