West Virginia House of Delegates passes bill allowing K-12 teachers to carry firearms News
Judson McCranie, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
West Virginia House of Delegates passes bill allowing K-12 teachers to carry firearms

West Virginia’s House of Delegates passed a bill on Wednesday allowing teachers and other school staff to carry guns in K-12 public schools as “school protection officers.” Under the bill, designated staff members would be armed “to defend the school in case of an active shooter event.”

Supporters of the bill argue that not every school system in West Virginia can afford to hire a full-time school resource officer. Similar laws exist in 11 other US states. If passed through the Senate and approved by the governor, the bill will make the program mandatory for school districts if a staffer wants to take on the “protection officer” role and completes training.

The West Virginia Senate previously passed a different bill allowing local education boards to contract with military veterans and retired law enforcement officers for armed security at schools. Additionally, the state government has surveyed statewide school and law enforcement partnerships and rated the school’s response plans. Education Week, a teacher publication, reported that “advocates say having staff on site who can respond in emergencies can cut the amount of time those in the school have to spend waiting for first responders—time that can save lives.”

According to US government reports, school shootings jumped 124 percent between the 2020 and 2022 school years. In the current school year spanning 2023 and 2024, there have already been 93 recorded incidents of school shootings, with casualties at both public and private schools. Among these, 43 shootings resulted in fatalities. The remaining 50 incidents caused injuries without a loss of life. The majority of these shootings occurred in high schools, although elementary schools as well as middle and junior high schools were also affected.

Gun violence is the leading cause of death for children in the US.  As the country debates the solutions to this issue, advocacy groups such as the American Medical Association have declared the issue a public health crisis

The bill passed through West Virginia’s House by 89-11 vote, with only Democrats voting against it.