Under the Dome

Armed school marshals proposed in new bill

After all the recent controversy about whether Wake County elementary schools should have unarmed or armed security, a new state Senate bill could affect the situation, The N&O's Keung Hui reports.

The "Public School Protection" bill introduced Thursday would authorize school boards to designate people to the newly created position of school safety marshal. These people, who could be school employees, school volunteers, or people specially hired for the position, would be authorized to carry firearms on campus.

These new marshals would have to complete a training program from the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission. Training would include the use of firearms, focusing on their use in a crisis situation that may involve unarmed bystanders.

The bill's sponsor is state Sen. Stan Bingham, a Davidson County Republican and co-chairman of the appropriations on justice and public safety committee.

One of the knocks on using armed guards in Wake's 105 elementary schools was the cost, which was estimated at $7.1 million to $8.5 million a year if the various police agencies could find enough people.

But this option could be free or cheap since it would mean allowing interested volunteers. But the liability issues and general concern about having guns on campus could deter the Wake school board from using the safety marshal positions if it goes into law.

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