Arkansas AG: Actually, Schools Can’t Legally Arm Their Teachers

After reports earlier this week that an Arkansas high school would attempt to arm more than 20 teachers, administrators, and other school employees, the state’s attorney general responded Thursday: not so fast.

Dustin McDaniel, a Democrat, issued a legal opinion outlining his interpretation of the section of state law which allows for the registration and commissioning of private security officers. McDaniel wrote that Arkansas law authorizes school districts to hire private security contractors, not to essentially act as “its own ‘security services contractor.’” From the opinion:

A public school district, as the designation itself implies, is a profoundly public, rather than private, entity. Indeed, the Arkansas Supreme Court has recognized a school district as public to the point of qualifying as a “political subdivision” of the state. I therefore cannot subscribe to any reading of this chapter under which a school district might qualify as a “private business.” Again, I do not read this chapter as applying to school districts, meaning that school employees could not be commissioned under this chapter’s authority as armed school guards.

Putting guns in the hands of schoolteachers has been a favored argument of conservatives to prevent school shootings like the one which occurred in Newtown, Conn., last December. In lieu of more restrictions on gun ownership, advocates argue that teachers would be equipped to stop those attacking their students. But given the danger of having shooters with minimal experience or training using weapons, the proposals could ultimately be as dangerous as the threats they purport to stop.