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Teachers with Guns: Mississippi School Safety Guardian Program

The State of Mississippi recently established the "Mississippi School Safety Guardian Program" the in the Office of Homeland Security within the Department of Public Safety. The bill requires that, in consultation with the Mississippi Department of Education, the Department of Public Safety shall establish the program and promulgate rules, regulations, and establish training requirements. It authorizes the governing body of a school to establish a program under the act. It also authorizes the department or the governing body to discontinue a school's participation in the program at any time.

If the governing body of a school establishes a program under this act, the governing body of a school shall designate employees to participate in the training program developed by the department by which designated and trained school employees are authorized to carry concealed firearms for the protection of the students, employees and others on the campus of the school. The scope and purpose of each program shall include responding to an active shooter situation or other situation that would cause death or serious bodily harm on the school campus or in the immediate vicinity of the school campus. The bill also requires that the school safety guardian's weapon shall always remain under his or her physical control on campus.

The bill provides that a designated school safety guardian is immune from civil liability for any action taken by the school safety guardian if the action in question occurs during the reasonable exercise of and within the course and scope of the designated School Safety Guardian's official duties. School Safety Guardians are charged with these duties and must act in accordance with these duties to maintain their immunity. If a School Safety Guardian is found to have failed to carry out their official duties, the immunity shall be waived.

The bill also provides that a school safety guardian shall be paid a monthly stipend in an amount not less than $100 but not more than $500 by the school district. The bill also provides for certain criteria for a school safety guardian to be eligible for immunity. The bill provides that the Department of Public Safety may authorize and certify law enforcement training academies to offer the training program to the governing body of a school. The bill sets the minimum standards of the training program and provides that a training academy may provide training to any employee of a school who holds a concealed handgun license, has a current CPR and First Aid certification, and has a certain gun endorsement. The bill authorizes the department to establish a fee in an amount sufficient to cover the costs of the training program.

The bill requires the Department of Public Safety to adopt rules and regulations that review the firearms training policies and procedures of school districts. The bill also provides that a person who is indicted or charged with a violation of criminal law while acting as a School Safety Guardian may assert as a defense, in addition to any other defense available, that, at the time of the action in question, the person was a certified School Safety Guardian, was then actually engaged in the performance of the person's duties as a School Safety Guardian and had met the requirements of this section at the time of the action in question. The bill also provides that records relating to the identities of any person designated by the school's governing body to serve as a School Safety Guardian shall be exempt from the provisions of the Mississippi Public Records Act. It also states that subject to appropriation, the Office of Homeland Security may contract with a third-party vendor for mobile phone applications and/or computer equipment or services to accomplish the purposes of this act.

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