kentucky capitol

Kentucky Governor Signs Law Requiring School Officers to Carry a Gun

The new measure, which goes into effect immediately, amends previously passed legislation meant to improve statewide school safety.

After the bill received strong support from the Republican-held Senate and House, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, signed a school safety bill into law that implements a new requirement: all school police officers must carry a gun.

Senate Bill 8, sponsored by Republican state senator Max Wise, amends a 2019 law that called for a school resource officer in every public school in Kentucky. The law did not state whether or not that officer was required to have a firearm, The Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

“This new legislation, which goes into effect immediately, is crucial to the General Assembly’s continued efforts to protect Kentucky’s children, teachers and staff by improving the safety of our schools,” Wise said in a statement. “I am appreciative of all those who provided the necessary input and support to see this measure come to fruition.”

Beshear acknowledged concerns about the legislation and said that he would continue to develop a training curriculum for SROs that addresses the gun requirement, according to the Herald-Leader.

The requirement applies to every school campus where there are one or more school buildings rather than every school, according to the bill. While Wise cited widespread support for arming officers among school employees, some members of the Black Caucus in the Kentucky House expressed concerns of firearms being used on a student during an incident with officers.

“I’m asking that you consider children that come from a different walk,” said Rep. Charles Booker, a Democrat, during arguments on the bill in the House.

Outside of the gun requirement bill, Kentucky is also grappling with how to pay for its previous school safety legislation, which was passed last year. Beshear said that he has included enough money -- $18.2 million -- to fund the part of the bill that requires school safety upgrades.

School districts across the state would be on the hook for at least $121 million more each year to meet the requirements for the legislation, according to an estimate from the Kentucky School Boards Association.

Jim Flynn, the leader of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents, said earlier this year that the Daily News that the organization is working with the Kentucky School Boards Association to push lawmakers to allocate the proper funding.

“Many superintendents are concerned about the facility improvements and having a funding stream to make those happen,” Flynn said.

About the Author

Haley Samsel is an Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.

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