Teachers shouldn’t be armed because most of them are women, Alabama lawmaker says

Republican Alabama state Rep. Harry Shiver (left) embraces Speaker of the House Mike Hubbardon the final day of the regular legislative session at the Alabama Statehouse in Montgomery, Ala., in May 2013.
Republican Alabama state Rep. Harry Shiver (left) embraces Speaker of the House Mike Hubbardon the final day of the regular legislative session at the Alabama Statehouse in Montgomery, Ala., in May 2013. AP

A Republican lawmaker in Alabama says he opposes another state legislator’s plan to arm teachers because most teachers are women, and women “are scared of guns.”

State Rep. Harry Shiver, of Stockton, Ala., told the Birmingham News that, though other Republicans support plans to arm teachers, he thinks women teachers shouldn’t have to learn to use and carry weapons in the classroom.

The bill Shiver opposes was approved by a divided Alabama House committee on Thursday morning, and now heads to the House floor for consideration. It would allow school districts in the state to arm teachers with pistols, shotguns or rifles after at least 40 hours of training and an assessment by law enforcement.

During debate in the committee on the bill, Shiver also questioned whether “lady teachers” should be armed, WSFA reports. Another member of the committee, a Democrat, backed him up by saying there are few men working in the state’s schools.

Shiver told the Birmingham News that part of the reason he opposes the bill is because he was a physical education teacher for more than three decades. He is now retired.

“I’ve heard ... that 75 percent of Republicans support it, but I was there live and in person and I know what it is like in the schools,” Shiver told the newspaper. “Most women wouldn’t like to be put in that position. I know from South Alabama, they wouldn’t.”

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Will Ainsworth, of Guntersville, Ala., said that having teachers who were armed in the classroom would be a powerful deterrent for anyone considering an attack on school grounds, the Montgomery Advertiser reports.

“These kids aren’t trained killers,” Ainsworth said, according to the Advertiser. “If they know a threat’s there, they’re going to turn and run.”

Ainsworth, who is running for lieutenant governor in the state, has been promoting the bill online — calling for Facebook users to “join me in efforts to train our teachers” by signing a petition on his campaign website.

Ainsworth also contrasted the cost of arming teachers with the cost of hiring trained resources officers to protect schools.

“School resource officers are a lot more expensive,” Ainsworth told WFSA. “The minimum cost I’m aware of is $23,000 for a school resource officer, whereas we have the people already in a lot of these schools that don’t have school resource officers that are perfectly capable. Some have served in law enforcement, some have served in the national guard, and they’re perfectly capable of doing the role of the school resource officer.”

Shiver also said in his interview with the Birmingham News that he’s not talking about all women — just most, he said.

“I’m not saying all (women), but in most schools, women are (the majority) of the teachers,” Shiver told the newspaper. “Some of them just don’t want to (be trained to possess firearms). If they want to, then that’s good. But most of them don’t want to learn how to shoot like that and carry a gun.”

An Alabama school superintendent also spoke out against the bill during a hearing on Wednesday.

Limestone County Schools Superintendent Tom Sisk said that even though he’s an NRA-certified firearms trainer, he worries the bill would put pressure on teachers if it became law, the Birmingham News reports.

“We have got to keep in mind that teachers are trained to teach, not to carry firearms,” Sisk testified, according to the newspaper. “So as a superintendent, I’m opposed to any bill that would arm a teacher.”

Sisk added that the bill could “create a knee-jerk reaction, that it would create and put undue pressure on my board and put pressure on me, an appointed superintendent, to do something that maybe in my heart of hearts that I don’t think is the right thing to do.”