SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — As residents of Newtown, Conn., began burying the 20 children and six adults killed in Friday’s school shooting, a South Dakota legislator is drafting a bill that would allow teachers, administrators and even janitors to bring guns to school.
Rep. Betty Olson, R-Prairie City, told The Associated Press on Monday that she believes armed school personnel could have mitigated the Newtown massacre.
“Those children and teachers, that was like shooting fish in a barrel,” Olson said.
The bill wouldn’t require school personnel to be armed, she said, but it would allow those who have concealed weapons permits to bring their firearms into the building. She plans to present the proposal during the state’s annual legislative session, which begins Jan. 8.
State officials said it likely wouldn’t be the only gun-related bill proposed.
“There is legislation relating to guns in South Dakota almost every year. The sad events in Connecticut make it likely that there will be new proposals” in the 2013 session, Tony Venhuizen, a spokesman for Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard, said in a statement emailed to the AP.
The state’s 105 legislators have until Jan. 28 to introduce bills.
Olson’s will surely be met with opposition. Senate Democratic Caucus Chairwoman Angie Buhl said Monday that she doesn’t think the answer to gun violence is more guns.
“I’m not sure a janitor is necessarily qualified to take down an armed shooter,” she said. “I have some concerns about that specific proposal.”
The children killed Friday were all 6 or 7 years old. Police say the gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, first killed his mother at their home, and fatally shot himself inside the school as first responders arrived.
In a scenario described by Olson, armed school personnel could have felled Lanza with a lethal shot by waiting for him to reload or turn his head. Olson dismissed the idea that people attempting to intervene could injure others in the crossfire or become victims themselves.
“They’re going to be dead regardless, the way I see it, so (being armed) is the only chance they’ve got,” she said.
The Connecticut shooting has sparked national debate on gun control, including talk of resurrecting a ban on assault weapons.
That’s a discussion Buhl said is long overdue.
“We have to do what we can to keep weapons that were meant for battlegrounds out of schools,” she said.
During last year’s legislative session, Daugaard vetoed a bill approved by legislators that would have allowed most adults in the state to carry concealed handguns without a permit, essentially requiring little more than a driver’s license.