JEFFERSON CITY -- Any public school teacher or administrator with a concealed weapons permit would be allowed to carry guns in Missouri schools under a bill filed Tuesday in the state House.
Republican Rep. Mike Kelley of Lamar is sponsoring the legislation and has 24 co-sponsors, including House Speaker Tim Jones and House Majority Leader John Diehl. It comes less than a week after a gunman shot and killed 26 people – including 20 children – at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Missouri law currently prohibits anyone except law enforcement from bringing a weapon into schools. But following the Connecticut school shooting, Republicans around the nation have argued that similar tragedies could be avoided in the future by arming school personnel.
"I think there is a correlation between these horrible acts of violence and the gun-free zones that have come about by the law," Republican Rep. Stanley Cox, a Sedalia attorney who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, recently told the Associated Press.
Similar arguments have been made by Republican members of Congress and numerous GOP state officials, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
The idea has been decried by gun-control advocates.
“Think about what that’s saying. It’s saying the only answer to violence is more violence. The only answer to guns is more guns," Dan Gross, the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, told Politico. He went on to call the idea of arming teachers, "insane."
So far, the only other gun-related bill to be filed in Missouri would require school districts and charter schools to provide training and education about firearms safety to teachers. It also requires all first graders to participate in a gun safety program organized by the National Rifle Association.
Earlier this year, the Missouri House garnered national attention when it overwhelmingly approved legislation banning discrimination against Missourians who lawfully carry a concealed weapon. The bill never came up for a vote in the Missouri Senate.
In recent years, the Republican-controlled legislature has also lowered the age requirement for a concealed carry permit, expanded the state's self-defense law, and allowed lawmakers and staff to carry firearms in the state Capitol.