Following the killing at a private Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee said he plans to extend a school safety measure to include the deployment of school security officers at every school in the state.
The governor’s proposal comes after a transsexual 28-year-old opened fire at Covenant School, murdering six people, including three children. The perpetrator was slain by law police.
Lee spoke out about the emotional toll the killing has taken on the neighborhood.
“I think we all understand when people are afraid, angry, or lash out; I have those same emotions, and we all do,” Lee told The Tennessean.
“We have an obligation, and I have an obligation, to do what I can and collaborate with leaders across this community to address people’s concerns and protect our children in any way we can.”
The governor’s idea would extend on a proposal to put an armed guard, also known as a school security officer, at every public school in Tennessee, as well as provide state money for private schools to employ an armed guard.
Private schools would be forced to employ security with the same degree of training as public schools under this plan, which would need to be passed by the state assembly. Private institutions, on the other hand, will not be compelled to participate in the initiative.
Lee issued an identical executive order last year, and in his state of the state speech earlier this year, he advocated for a new school safety strategy.
In recent weeks, state legislators debated the new plan, which includes fines for public schools discovered to have security breaches.
This year’s governor’s budget plan included $20 million for school facility protection improvements. He also intends to suggest extending this fund to include extra funding for private institutions.
Additional mental health help would also be sought through school-based behavioral health liaisons under the revised strategy. Lee earlier created a $250 million “trust fund” for mental health, which has yet to be utilized.
“Mental health concerns are something in which we must continue to invest,” Lee said. “There will be discussions across the board about mental health for students and mental health in general, as well as support for those who need help and do become a threat to themselves or others.”
Nearly 20 states have extreme risk protection legislation (ERPO), also known as “red flag” statutes, but Lee would not expressly pledge to such a measure.
Authorities can seek a civil court order to take a person’s firearms away for a limited period under “red flag” statutes if they are deemed to be a high danger to themselves or others.
“Most practical, thoughtful people believe that people who pose a threat to themselves or others should not have access to weapons,” Lee says. “That, in my opinion, is a practical, thoughtful approach.”
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