South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard today signed into law a controversial bill that will allow his state’s schools to arm teachers and other staff with guns. As the New York Times explains, a few other states have provisions on the books that make it technically possible for a teacher to be armed in the classroom, but the Mount Rushmore State is “believed to be the first state to pass a law that specifically allows teachers to carry firearms.”
Here’s the South Dakota’s Argus Leader with more on the so-called sentinels program:
Hotly debated this legislative session, it was pitched as a way for small schools without nearby law enforcement to protect themselves against shooters or other dangers. They also emphasized the local choice — no school would be forced to implement a sentinels program. Opponents said adding more guns to schools was dangerous and unnecessary, and called for a delay to study the broader issue of school security.
State lawmakers signed off on the measure last week, despite wide-spread opposition from school administrators and teachers who are opposed to the idea of any measure that results in more guns on campus. The bill’s backers, however, stress that the law still leaves the decision to arm teachers up to individual school districts and local police departments, and argue that the rural nature of their state—where many schools are miles away from the closest emergency responders—required them to take action.
Now’s probably as good a time as any to check out Slate interactive tracking how many people have been killed by guns since the tragedy in Newtown.