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NY lawmakers pass bill prohibiting the arming of schoolteachers

ALBANY — State legislators overwhelming approved on Tuesday a bill that would ban schools from arming teachers, saying adding guns to campuses wouldn’t stop the spate of school shootings.

With the mother of one of the Parkland, Florida, massacre victims on hand, the Senate approved the measure, 42-21, the state Assembly, 86-35. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has said he  would sign the bill into law.

Backers said the arming of teachers would be more likely to lead to more accidental deaths and shooting of bystanders, rather than halting a mass shooter. While other states are considering arming teachers, New York lawmakers said that's the wrong response.

“If you think back to your fourth- or fifth-grade class, where would a loaded gun have been kept in that class where only a teacher and no one else could access it?” said Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach). “The idea of teachers roaming the halls and looking for an active shooter and coming around a corner facing maybe another student or law enforcement officer, I think you’re asking for trouble.”

Kaminsky was the main sponsor of the bill, along with another Long Islander, Assemb. Judy Griffin (D-Rockville Centre).  Griffin said arming teachers would “increase fear” on campuses  but wouldn’t increase safety. She noted that the law still allows schools to place a licensed, trained security guard on campuses.

“Arming teachers is something that, to me, is ridiculous,” said Linda Beigel Schulman, a Dix Hills resident whose son, Scott Beigel, a schoolteacher, was killed at Parkland.

In contrast, Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore) opposed the measure, saying: “A well-trained, armed teacher could confront an active shooter, end the threat and save lives, precious minutes before the first police officer could even arrive on the scene.”

Some upstate lawmakers said some of their schools are too remote to rely on local police arriving in time to stop a mass shooting.  

“I have multiple townships in my county that have no local police at all. No sheriff’s substations. No State Police barracks,” said Assemb. Andy Goodell (R-Chautauqua), who represents New York’s farthest southwest corner. “This bill is making it impossible for a rural school district to protect itself.”

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