INDIANAPOLIS | The Indiana House on Thursday backed off a plan to require at least one person in every public school including charter schools carry a firearm at all times.
By an apparently unanimous voice vote, representatives agreed to change Senate Bill 1 by deleting the armed school protection officer mandate and directing a new state school safety board study the issue of arming school personnel.
"We want to be sure we're doing the right thing to protect children while they're in school," said state Rep. Jud McMillin, R-Brookville.
State Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, who vehemently opposed the plan during a committee hearing Tuesday, thanked McMillin for proposing those provisions be removed from the legislation.
"I think it's the best thing that we can do right now. We need to look at this thoroughly," Lawson said. "We also need to talk about the real reasons behind this bill and how we can improve it."
The idea for armed school protection officers was added to the measure last week by the House Education Committee, on the recommendation of state Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour.
The plan called for at least one school employee or community volunteer to carry a gun during the school day at every school in the state to protect against armed intruders.
School corporations could have opted out of the mandate but the decision to do so would have been made in secret. The identity of the school protection officer also would have been confidential.
House Republicans met behind closed doors for nearly five hours Thursday deciding whether to keep that in the legislation. Democrats had filed more than two dozen proposed amendments requiring additional training and imposing other restrictions on school protection officers.
Following the change, the legislation now nearly matches the Senate-approved version, which provided $10 million in matching grants for school corporations to hire local police officers to patrol their halls.
The House will vote Monday on whether to approve the revised legislation.