South Dakota allows teachers to carry guns

John Eligon / New York Times News Service /

Gov. Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota on Friday signed into law a bill that would allow teachers to carry guns in the classroom.

While some other states have provisions in their gun laws that make it possible for teachers to be armed, South Dakota is believed to be the first state to pass a law that specifically allows teachers to carry firearms.

About two dozen states have proposed similar bills since the shootings in December at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., but all of them have stalled.

Supporters say that the measure signed by Daugaard, a Republican, is important in a rural state like South Dakota, where some schools are many miles away from emergency responders.

Opponents, which have included the state school board association and teachers association, say this is a rushed measure that does not make schools safer.

The law says that school districts may choose to allow a school employee, hired security officer or volunteer to serve as a “sentinel” who can carry a firearm in the school. The law does not require school districts to do this.

Daugaard said he was comfortable with the law because it gave school districts the right to choose whether they wanted armed individuals in schools, and that those who were armed would have to undergo firearms training similar to what law enforcement officers received.

“I think it does provide the same safety precautions that a citizen expects when a law enforcement officer enters onto a premises,” Daugaard said in an interview. But he added that he did not think that many school districts would end up taking advantage of the measure.