MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

December 20, 2012

State leaders announce school security panel

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma legislative leaders on Thursday announced the creation of a panel of experts on school security that will make recommendations on how to improve safety at the state's public school.

Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, a former Secret Service agent, will chair the Oklahoma Commission on School Security, which he said will include members from diverse backgrounds, including homeland security, law enforcement, public education and mental health. Lamb said no legislators will serve on the panel.

"The primary goal of this commission will be to assess and reassess where we are in Oklahoma with school security, and we will do that with subject matter experts," Lamb said.

Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, said the goal of the panel is to make written recommendations to lawmakers for the 2013 legislative session, which begins in February.

He said the creation of the commission will be a nonpartisan effort, and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate both endorsed the plan.

"As legislative leaders in Oklahoma, we feel the right thing to do is come together in a nonpartisan way to look at how we might be able to create safer classrooms for our kids," Senate Democratic Leader Sean Burrage, D-Claremore, said in a statement.

Two state lawmakers already have proposed allowing teachers who have received some firearms training to carry weapons into schools, but neither Bingman nor House Speaker-elect T.W. Shannon embraced that idea Thursday.

"The question needs to always be not what makes us feel safer, but what actually indeed makes our children safer," said Shannon, R-Lawton.

Gov. Mary Fallin on Thursday also declined to embrace the idea of arming teachers.

"I'm not ready to endorse anything right now, because we're going to have a group that looks at many different options and ideas about how we can better secure our schools," Fallin said.

The head of a school administrators association said he expects most educators would be opposed to the idea of allowing teachers to carry a weapon inside a school.

"Just think about having loaded guns in the schools, and try to make that sound like a good idea," said Steven Crawford, executive director of the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration. "It just doesn't make sense to me to have loaded guns in a place where you don't want loaded guns, handled by people whose mission in life is not to shoot someone, it's to build someone up and make them better.

"I just think it's a bad idea."

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