Kentucky Green Lights Bill To Hire Armed School Guardians

Kentucky’s state Senate has passed a bill that is meant to increase safety in schools throughout the state.

The bill, which passed 28-10, will allow school districts to hire retired military veterans or law officers to work there as armed guardians. It’s the latest effort that the state has taken to increase school security since a mass shooting that happened at Marshall County High School in the western part of the state in 2018.

In that attack, two students were killed, and more than 24 others were injured when one student opened fire.

After passing through the state Senate, the bill will head to the state House.

The bill was introduced by state Senator Max Wise, and was designated as Senate Bill 2. This shows just how much of a priority the bill was for the chamber.

If the bill passes through the Legislature and is signed by the governor, local school boards would be allowed to hire and then assign guardians at their schools. Local boards would not have to hire the guardians, but they would have the ability to hire as many as they deemed necessary for their district.

The program would become effective for the 2025-2026 school year.

Wise has said in the past that the guardians would be able to fill voids at various schools that lacked SROs, or school resource officers — who are traditionally members of local law enforcement agencies. They could also serve alongside these SROs.

Many school districts don’t have SROs because they have insufficient funding to pay for them, or don’t have enough available officers to fill the positions.

During debate in the Senate, Wise said:

“The school resource officer, though, is first and foremost the hiring goal that we want for our Kentucky public schools. But, the guardian is a well-measured approach that may fit a school district’s need.”

The Legislature has approved many moves to bolster security in schools in the wake of the shooting in Marshall County. Wise said this bill wouldn’t remove or water down any of these actions.

Some Democrats aren’t completely happy about the bill, though. Democratic Senator Reginald Thomas, for one, said the bill wouldn’t resolve core problems that ultimately lead to gun violence.

He said:

“Rather than saying how can we deal with the gun problem that we have here in this state and in America, our answer is let’s put more guns in schools, not less.”

People who are eligible to be a guardian in Kentucky schools would be military veterans who were honorably discharged, state troopers who are retired, former federal agents and law enforcement officers who are retired.

According to the bill, the guardians would be prepared for the position by going through the first level of SRO training. In addition, they’d receive training on how they should respond to active shooter situations and firearms proficiency.

Guardians would be allowed to carry concealed weapons while they’re on school grounds.