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West Virginia House Passes Dangerous Bill to Arm Teachers and Other Staff in K-12 Schools; Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action Respond

February 22, 2024

CHARLESTON, WV –  The West Virginia chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action issued the following statement condemning the West Virginia House for passing HB4299, a dangerous bill requiring schools to allow teachers, administrators, and support staff in K-12 schools to carry concealed firearms with a maximum of 24 hours of training. The bill now moves to the Senate.

“There is no strong evidence demonstrating that arming educators increases the safety of our schools, but there are plenty of reasons why policies like this are dangerous. Yet, our lawmakers continue to ignore common sense, advancing a bill that would bring guns into our schools and put our children and their educators at risk,” said Deanna McKinney, a survivor of gun violence and chapter lead for the West Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Arming educators under the guise of school safety is dangerous and will only increase the possibility of an unintentional shooting for our students. Instead, we’re urging our lawmakers to enact research-based school safety measures like safe storage at home, threat assessment protocols, and mental health care within our schools if they want to keep our children safe.”

Research shows that arming teachers introduces new risks of gun violence in schools and puts the lives of students, teachers, and law enforcement in danger. Law enforcement officers receive around 800 hours of basic training, including 168 hours of training on weapons, self-defense, and the use of force, and this bill caps training at 24 hours, with no specified minimum, for teachers to be able to carry firearms in schools.

West Virginia already ranks 27th in the country for the strength of its gun laws, and is part of a dangerous trend of states with already weak gun laws passing legislation to arm teachers. Instead of further endangering students by putting more guns in schools, West Virginia lawmakers should focus on passing foundational gun violence prevention legislation including an extreme risk law, enhanced background checks and secure storage. 

In an average year, 322 people die by guns and 788 people are shot and wounded in West Virginia. Gun violence costs West Virginia $4.3 billion each year, of which $75.5 million is paid by taxpayers. More information about gun violence in West Virginia is available here


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