Governor Wants Armed Guard In Every Tennessee School

Following the shooting at Covenant School in Nashville, where a 28-year-old transgender person killed six people, including three children, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) has announced plans to expand school safety measures.

The governor intends to place school resource officers at every school in the state.

“I think we all understand when people are fearful when people are angry when people lash out. I have those same emotions myself, we all do,” said Lee in a statement.

“We have an obligation, I have an obligation, to do what I can and work together with leaders across this community to address people’s concerns and to protect our kids in whatever way we can.”

Governor Lee intends to extend a proposal that calls for placing an armed guard, or a school resource officer, at every public school in Tennessee. The new plan would provide state funding for private schools to hire an armed guard as well.

The proposed plan, which still needs to be approved by the state legislature, would require private schools to hire armed guards with the same level of training as those in public schools. However, private schools would not be obligated to take advantage of the program.

The recent proposal includes penalties for public schools that fail to meet security requirements. The governor’s budget proposal for this year allocated $20 million for school building security upgrades, and he intends to suggest additional funding to expand the fund for private schools.

The proposed plan also aims to increase mental health support by providing school-based behavioral health liaisons. Governor Lee had previously created a mental health “trust fund” of $250 million, but the fund has yet to be utilized.

“Mental health concerns are something that we have to continue to invest in. There will be conversations across the board about mental health for students and mental health in general. And support for those who need help and who do, in fact, become a threat to themselves or others,” said Lee.

“Most practical, thoughtful people believe that individuals who are a threat to themselves or to others shouldn’t have access to weapons,” Lee continued. “In my view, that’s a practical, thoughtful approach.”

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) have announced their plans to introduce the SAFE School Act at the federal level. The act aims to create a $900 million grant program for public and private schools, which can be used to train and hire former law enforcement officers and veterans as school safety officers, hire off-duty law enforcement officers, and enhance physical security in schools.