Tennessee Parents Question Whether Arming Teachers Is the Answer

Devon Dixon believes guns serve a purpose. That is why she is licensed to carry and conceal firearms. She is also a mother living in the Nashville suburbs with three school-age children. She worries about their safety, especially after three 9-year-olds were among the six killed in a school shooting in the city last year. “It’s pretty heavy on my heart,” she said.

But those concerns weren’t enough to persuade Ms. Dixon that Tennessee lawmakers were right to pass a bill on Tuesday that would allow teachers and other school employees to carry concealed handguns on campus in an effort to protect students.

She confessed that she didn’t know what the solution to securing schools was. She suspected that lawmakers didn’t either.

“Everyone is grasping at straws because no one has the answer,” Ms. Dixon, 38, said.

The fear and fury unleashed by the shooting at the Covenant School, a private academy in Nashville, has fueled a concerted push from parents at the school as well as many others across the state to urge lawmakers to act.

Legislators responded with the concealed carry measure, which has been one of the most significant bills to emerge after the shooting, following roughly 20 other states that enacted some version of legislation that allows teachers to be armed.

Even in a state as conservative as Tennessee, the reaction to the bill has included unease and disappointment. The skepticism has come not just from those who want tighter restrictions on firearms but also from some who generally believe strongly in gun rights. Their reluctance was rooted in doubts about the wisdom of placing such a daunting responsibility on teachers and other school workers.

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