South Dakota Is First State to Legalize Teachers with Guns Post-Newtown

Elspeth Reeve
The Atlantic Wire

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard has signed the first post-Newtown law to allow teachers to carry guns in school. Politicians in several states have introduced such laws since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary school, but The New York Times' John Eligon reports that South Dakota is the first state to pass such a measure.

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Gun groups have increased a push for teachers to be armed across the country since just after the shootings, sometimes unaware that guns are already allowed in public schools in their states. In Alabama, for example, state Rep. Kerry Rich proposed legislation to allow teachers to carry guns. But Alabama already allowed guns in public schools, unless the carrier has "intent to do bodily harm." (Alabama also prohibits the "habitual drunkard" from carrying a pistol.) The proposals have been met with resistance elsewhere. In Utah, lawmakers proposed a counter-measure that would require teachers to tell parents if they were carrying a concealed weapon, the Associated Press reports. The National Rifle Association's proposal to put armed guards in all 99,000 public schools has not picked up much support, either, even as the NRA calls on Congress for more funding.

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The South Dakota House passed the measure in late January, followed by the state Senate last week. Supporters in the state legislature emphasized that the bill leaves decisions on whether to arm teachers up to local school boards, according to Fox News: "Rep. Stace Nelson, R-Fulton, said educators are trusted to teach students, so they also can be trusted to protect students from harm," the report continued