AL House to set informal meeting on guns, school safety bills

AL House to set informal meeting on guns, school safety bills
(Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The sponsors of legislation dealing with either guns or school safety measures will meet to try and find some common ground this week, according to Alabama House speaker Mac McCutcheon.

"We are going to sit in a room and just informally we are going to talk about it, how these bills may cross over, what is the intent of the sponsor through the legislation that they have, what are they trying to accomplish through this and how does it promote safety in our state?" McCutcheon said.

Already, there are more than a half dozen gun-related or school safety proposals that have been filed in the wake of the Florida school shooting.

"From arming teachers to assault weapons, but what are we trying to accomplish?" McCutcheon asked. "All of these need to be part of the discussion from my perspective."

McCutcheon said the informal meeting will bring the sponsors of the different bills together. The speaker also hopes to get the thoughts of law enforcement and school officials on potential proposals.

"I want to talk to teachers, principals, people who are in the trenches, on the inside," McCutcheon went on.


Arming teachers: Rep. Will Ainsworth's proposal would allow teachers to be trained and then armed in the classroom. The bill has faced some major pushback but has also received support from the House's more conservative members. Law enforcement, like Montgomery Sheriff Derrick Cunningham, have expressed concern it could change how law enforcement deals with active shooter situations.

A volunteer security force: The legislation is modeled after a local law in Franklin County. The bill would allow members of the school, community, and others to act as a security force for the school. Members of the force would be trained by law enforcement and knowledge of who would be on the team would be limited. Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow, who sponsored the original bill, would not confirm which, if any, schools are currently using these teams.

Raising the age to buy an "Assault weapon": The bill would raise the minimum age to buy a gun like an AR-15 and similar semi-automatic weapons, from 18 to 21.

Guns on campus bill: The legislation would increase the ability of law enforcement to pursue criminal charges against students who bring guns on school grounds. Currently, law enforcement must prove the student intended to hurt someone with the weapon before it can press charges. This legislation would do away with the "intent" requirement.

"Assault weapon" and semi-automatic weapon ban: The bill would ban many semi-automatic weapons in the state, including AR-15s.

Funds from the Education Budget: Sen. Trip Pittman said he would propose legislation which would allow money in a fund for schools' technology use also be used for school defense.

More metal detectors: Not a bill yet, but Gov. Kay Ivey said she supported the idea of metal detectors in every school in the days following the Florida shooting.

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