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Guns, school safety among topics

Guns, school safety among topics
By BRAD GASKINS
News Editor
MARTIN — Schools should not be designated as gun free zones, state Rep. Andy Holt said Friday morning at the 6th annual Weakley County Legislative Breakfast.
“All we have to do, and I think we can cure 99.9 percent of the problem, is change the signs that we see on every door right now from saying ‘this is a gun free zone’ to saying ‘administrators, teachers and staff at this facility may potentially be armed with deadly weapons,’” he said.
Holt (R-Dresden) made his comments during the question and answer portion of the event in the University of Tennessee at Martin’s ballroom.
Congressman Stephen Fincher (R-Frog Jump) and state Sen. John Stevens (R-Huntington) also spoke at the breakfast.
Responding to a question from Weakley County Schools Director Randy Frazier, Holt said he supports allowing at least some school administrators, teachers and staff to carry or have access to firearms on school property.
“That is the way you keep and prevent cowards, like we saw in Connecticut, from coming into schools,” Holt said. “They don’t want opposition. They don’t want the opportunity for opposition to their strange and sadistic ideas. If there is a tangible resistance, they won’t go there. They’ll find another soft target where guns are completely outlawed.”
If teachers and administrators are allowed to have firearms in schools, Holt said those in middle and high schools probably shouldn’t carry the weapons on them – in holsters, for example. He suggested locking firearms in a series of strategically placed safes or lockboxes throughout the school.
“It would be accessible to a specific number of individuals to go and access a weapon to use it in case they need to,” Holt said, adding that only those with specific training for violent situation should have access to the weapons.
No school administrator, teacher or staff member would be forced to carry a weapon, Holt said.
“The most important thing that we have to recognize is that limitations on the rights of individuals to bear arms does nothing for law abiding citizens, but it creates a world of opportunity for criminals,” he said. “Criminals, by their inherent nature, don’t follow the law.”
Fincher said mental health issues should also be considered when looking at ways to prevent shootings like the one at Sandy Hook.
“I’m very hesitant to talk about everybody having a gun everywhere,” Fincher said. “But the Second Amendment is very important to the security and freedom of this country.”
Other topics discussed throughout the event included I-69, Cates Landing and the economy, among others.
Fincher said he recently met in Nashville with John Schroer, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
“We had a very candid conversation about how important I-69 is to the 8th Congressional district,” Fincher said. “Folks, make no mistake, it will change forever the landscape of this district and this area.”
Fincher said he is “all for I-69.”
“We are working hard every day to secure more funding,” he said.
He encouraged local mayors and other officials “to reach out to the commissioner and to the state department to urge them to apply” for a grant through a program called “Roads of National Significance.”
Fincher said the “problem” area of Tennessee’s portion of I-69 is the section from Troy to Memphis. He said Schroer told him construction on that section would be halted pending more funds.
“For me, that’s a problem,” Fincher said. “I-69 comes 10 miles from my house. We really want this.”
Turning his comments toward Cates Landing, Fincher said the landing would be “huge for West Tennessee.”
He said Cates Landing would be a “job creator” once it is up and running.
Fincher said his Martin office “would continue to stay in Martin.”
“With redistricting, we did have to shuffle some people around,” Fincher said. “Our budgets have been cut $400,000 a year within the last cycle. We’re going to continue to make sure that you’re well-represented.”
Stevens said that overall, he thinks the state “is moving in the right direction.”
Speaking of the current legislative session, Stevens said lawmakers are “taking of big issues immediately.”
He mentioned workers compensation reform as one of those issues.
Published in The WCP 2.12.13

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