Illinois lawmakers are expected to take a roll call vote on a bill designed to toughen gun laws in the wake of the Florida high school shooting, and gubernatorial candidates are weighing in on various ideas to help improve safety in schools.
One of those ideas is a proposal by President Donald Trump to train and arm some teachers in schools.
“There’s so much that we need to do, but it’s not arming teachers in classrooms, or getting rid of gun-free zones around schools,” JB Pritzker said.
Fellow candidate Daniel Biss echoed those sentiments.
“The last thing I want is guns in those classrooms,” he said.
In a display of party unity, candidate Chris Kennedy slammed the president’s proposal.
“That’s like the craziest idea, and it’s offensive to everything that I believe in,” he said. “We do not want to send our children to school in a war zone.”
Republicans are more receptive to the idea. State Representative Jeanne Ives, running against Governor Bruce Rauner, says she would consider arming teachers if they have gone through concealed carry training.
The governor says that he would not support arming teachers, but would agree to provisions to arm school resources officers and to expand emergency training for students.
Lawmakers are expected to take up a bill next week that will allow video cameras inside of gun stores. The bill will also allow the state to run background checks on employees of those stores, with the hope to stop straw buyers from giving guns to criminals.
“There are 26 states that have some type of legislation in existence that put restrictions on what gun shops can do,” State Rep. Kathleen Willis, a co-sponsor of the bill, said.
Last week’s shooting in Florida could help tip the scales in favor of gun reform, according to lawmakers.
“The tragedy in Florida has helped people realize that we need to do something now,” Willis said.
Candidates for governor agree that the time is now for lawmakers to explore ways to help prevent similar tragedies in Illinois.
“We need to rid ourselves of automatic weapons and high capacity magazines,” Pritzker said.