CHARLESTON, WV – The West Virginia chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action issued the following statement after the West Virginia House Education committee voted to advance HB4299, a dangerous bill to allow teachers, administrators, and support staff in K-12 elementary schools to carry concealed firearms with minimal training. The passage of this dangerous legislation follows the legislature’s advancement of two other bills (SB143 and HB4851) that would increase the presence of armed people in West Virginia schools.
“Yet again, our legislators in West Virginia would rather put more guns in our schools than pass real solutions to keep our children safe,” said Deanna McKinney, a survivor of gun violence and chapter lead for the West Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We refuse to let reckless ideas like putting guns in the hands of teachers with very little training dominate the debate about school safety. We have seen this dangerous bill fail in previous sessions and will work just as hard this year to make sure it faces the same fate.”
Yesterday’s vote comes after a similar bill to arm K-12 teachers was debated over the last several years in the West Virginia legislature. 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. West Virginia is part of a dangerous trend among other states with weak gun laws introducing and passing legislation to arm teachers, despite opposition from law enforcement, school safety experts, and teachers. Our lawmakers should listen to the people who actually know how to create a safe and successful learning environment for our kids instead of catering to the priorities of the gun lobby.
In addition to HB4299, West Virginia lawmakers introduced two separate bills that would increase the presence of guns on school grounds. HB4851 and SB 143 would create similar positions in K-12 schools to put armed veterans or former law enforcement in schools and even allow them to detain students. These “school security officers” are merely “school resource officers” by a different name. Firearms are the leading cause of death for American children and teens, and arming teachers and people on campus only increases the chances of students experiencing gun violence at school.
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.
If you are interested in speaking with a West Virginia Moms Demand Action volunteer, please reach out to [email protected].