(WASHINGTON) — In the midst of the gun debate, a state senator from Maine proposed a bill that would allow teachers and other school employees to carry concealed weapons on the job.
The bill proposed by Sen. David Burns, R-Washington County, a few weeks ago follows the shooting tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and six adults were slain.
Burns’ bill would allow educators and school employees to carry a concealed weapon while in school under the stipulation that they undergo a psychological exam, take a firearms training course and receive certification to carry the weapon.
“My bill would have the option of either putting together a training curriculum through the [Maine] Criminal Justice Academy or it would be put together by private vendors trained in firearms,” he told ABC News. Police officers in Maine’s cities are trained at the academy.
When asked where the licensed gun holders would actually keep the guns during school hours, Burns told ABC News that trained staff members would keep the weapon on them, saying, “That is the value of this bill.”
Burns says that the idea of carrying a concealed weapon, however, is no new phenomenon.
“It’s something that police officers have been doing for years.” He continues, “The key is proper screening, training and oversight. We do this all the time with our police department; there are people in schools with the right aptitude to do it too.”
Parents of students would be notified that an employee at their child’s school is carrying a concealed weapon, but the identity of the weapon carrier would be kept confidential.
Maine would not be the first state to adopt similar laws. Utah, Alabama, Texas and even Ohio have had armed employees in schools, even before the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.
Burns, who is a first-term state senator representing District 29, worked for 24 years as a Maine state trooper before taking office. He told ABC News that he has seen both sides of the spectrum, having worked as a state trooper as well as a policymaker for both private and public schools in Maine.
Burns said that he has no concerns about this bill and that it is a good option for rural communities with a lack of resources to protect students and staff.
“It’s an option proposal that schools can opt in or opt out of.” He continues, “If a school chooses to do that, they can do so and that result would be kept confidential.”
Institution of the bill would rely upon approval of the local school board, superintendent and building principal.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio