By Emily Ketterer
INDIANAPOLIS–Teachers may soon have the option to be shot with pellet guns during active shooter training.
The Senate Education and Career Development Committee amended House Bill 1253–a bill creating handgun training for teachers–Wednesday to allow school staff to choose to be shot with projectiles during the optional 39-hour training process.
Last week, this same committee amended House Bill 1004, the flagship school safety bill in the House, to bar the use of projectiles on teachers or students in active shooter training.
The issue stems from a January incident in Monticello where teachers were lined up and shot multiple times with pellet guns as part of an active shooter drill. Since then, the Indiana State Teachers Association and other educators asked lawmakers to bar that practice.
The amendment to HB 1253 would allow the use of projectiles only if the school informs staff that projectiles may be used and the employee provides written consent to participate.
Sen. Jeff Raatz, the Centerville Republican who authored the newest amendment, said allowing this action will present a more real-life scenario of what school staff may go through if an active shooter is in the school.
Sen. Jeff Raatz, R-Centerville, authored an amendment to allow teachers to be shot with pellet guns during active shooter training, if the teacher consents. Photo by Emily Ketterer, TheStatehouseFile.com
“It’s got to do with the reality and making sure they experience the emotions and adrenaline,” Raatz said.
HB 1253 was approved 8-2 by the committee, with two Democrats voting no. Both raised concerns with arming teachers in general, which is legal in Indiana. Sen. Mark Stoops, D-Bloomington, said most law enforcement do not approve of the legislation because they don’t want to walk into a school with multiple armed people.
“If they enter a school and somebody has a gun, they will shoot first and ask questions later,” Stoops said. “They’re not going to be trying to figure out if this person is a teacher, or if that person is a teacher or if this person is the shooter.”
Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, said he was also concerned that the cost of the program, funded by state dollars, has yet to be determined.
Sen. Aaron Freeman, R-Indianapolis, pointed out that there was no harm in passing the legislation even if schools don’t approve because the program is optional. He agreed with the rest of the committee members who said it is unfortunate the General Assembly has to consider so many school safety measures but added this is the current reality.
“As a dad, there’s nothing that I want more than my two kids go off to school safe,” Freeman said. “If their last line of defense is a teacher that can help them, the good guy with the gun, then that’s what I want.”
The committee also passed a resolution and four other bills, one of which included an amendment to require that cursive handwriting be taught in public schools. Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, authored the handwriting amendment to House Bill 1640, a bill authored by Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, which focuses on making an easier accreditation process for schools.
“It’s one [the amendment] that Rep. Behning doesn’t care for very much,” Leising said.
Leising’s previous efforts over the last eight years for the cursive writing requirement usually passed through the Senate. But the bill was always blocked in the House by Behning, who is chairman of the Education Committee. This amendment passed with consent of the Senate committee.
All the legislation will now head to the full Senate for debate.
Emily Ketterer is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.