Teachers in South Dakota are not just packing a punch, they are packing heat. In March, South Dakota became the first state to legalize the possession of firearms for school employees. The law went into effect today.
The controversial law, known as the “School Sentinel” was signed into law by Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R). Specifically, the law stipulates that teachers must get permission from the school district. Additionally, local law enforcement agencies must work with school employees to properly train teachers how to handle firearms. While similar laws have passed in local districts around the country, a statewide legalization of firearm possession by school employees is unprecedented.
In response to gun violence in schools, many districts have hired armed guards to provide security. However, many districts cannot afford to pay guards and this law targets these schools in particular. Moreover, in more rural areas local law enforcement may be both distant and inadequate to deal with a sudden attack. The provision of firearms might provide more immediate and direct protection.
Schools have been hesitant to adopt this new liberty, however. Although this is only the first day of implementation, no schools have reported plans to utilize the program, according to a local news station. Unsurprisingly, the bill was met with much controversy with opponents concerned about accidental shootings. Last month in Kansas, the state’s largest insurance provider announced it would not provide coverage to schools allowing teachers to possess firearms.