Governor wants money to arm teachers, staff inside Mississippi schools

Gov. Tate Reeves said he wants Mississippi lawmakers to put up more money to put armed teachers and staff inside schools.

The governor released his 2024 Executive Budget recommendation Tuesday for the coming legislative session. Included in the recommendations is a program called the Mississippi School Safety Guardian Program, which Reeves said is in response to a rash of school shootings across the nation.

Under the proposal, teachers or staff members would be nominated by the school district to undergo a thorough training program on active shooter situations and issued a gun, holster and bullets. The Mississippi Department of Public Safety would train the selected staff members.

“While law enforcement is the best-case scenario, having someone who is on the scene trained with a firearm that could possibly stop a shooter before more lives are lost is a good thing to have,” said Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell.

The governor’s plan pays $500 a month to the personnel who are trained for the enhanced safety role.

Akemi Stout, president of the Jackson Federation of Teachers, doesn’t support the proposal.

“How can this be to be so important to arm educators? People are afraid of their guns, so imagine if there is an instant where there is an armed intruder in the school and that person freezes, or the gun is taken from them,” Stout said.

Supporters point to the Pearl High School shooting, where an assistant school principal retrieved his weapon from his car to stop the shooter.

Also included in the governor’s budget recommendations are eliminating the state income tax, advancing the “new pro-life agenda,” giving Mississippi children “a first-rate education,” lowering health care costs and building a “high-quality” workforce.

“Our ultimate aim is straightforward: to advance responsible policies that lay the foundation of a strong society and allow Mississippians to flourish,” Reeves said in a statement. “We will maximize freedom, we will protect your rights and safety, and we will build a future that every Mississippian can be proud of. In other words, my budget continues to put you – the taxpayer – first.”

Lawmakers return to the Capitol in January for the start of the session.