Calling children 'vulnerable' at school, SC lawmakers push for safety

Calling children 'vulnerable' at school, SC lawmakers push for safety

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The tragedy in Parkland, FL, has hearts heavy inside of the South Carolina State House.

After 17 people were killed and a number of people injured, the school shooting brings memories to some of an incident closer to home. In September 2016, a young man opened fire at Townville Elementary. One student was killed, and others were injured.

"You have to think about, is my child going to be safe? Is my child going to get shot? Is my child going to come home at the end of the day?" Lt. Governor Kevin Bryant said Thursday.

Bryant was a state senator when the shooting happened; the horrific scene caused him to file a pair of bills. One would allow school districts to designate school staff to carry concealed weapons and be trained to use them in incidents like active shooters.

"Our children are vulnerable at school. And it's sad," Bryant (R-Anderson) said.

A similar bill is filed by Rep. Joshua Putnam in the House. "A student, or teacher, should not have to worry about throwing a book or putting a desk in front of a person with a gun," Putnam (R-Anderson) said.

The other bill would allow districts to use state dollars to hire more security. However, there's resistance to the concealed carry bills. Other lawmakers
say it would only threaten safety more.

"It inflames a problem or brings on a problem and that is very dangerous unto itself and that's counterproductive to what we're trying to achieve here," Rep. Wendell Gilliard (D-Charleston) said.

Another suggestion is installing metal detectors at public schools. Gilliard recently filed this bill in the House.

"When you go to the airport, they have metal detectors. When you go to these stores, they scan everything with detectors. The detectors are here. Now, if we have the technology for those things, surely we can insert those things in our public schools," he said.

But there's disagreement on that, too.

"Schools should be a learning environment. We shouldn't really treat schools as a prison, or as you're entering a prison, and that's what you would have to do with metal detectors. I mean, you would have to build up fences and barbed wire and all of that," Putnam said.

That's a debate to be continued. So far, none of those bills have been assigned a committee hearing.

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