In an even more substantive snuffing of gun-nuttery, Senate Education yesterday killed Senate Bill 34, Senator Brent Hoffman’s (R-9/Hartford) really bad idea to require every school to post gunslingers on its premises.
Senate Education’s early start—making SB 34 the first bill of its first hearing on the third day of Session at 8:15 a.m.—may have caught the gun lobby sleeping. Senator Hoffman only brought his handouts and slides and three women testifying on their own behalf. Somehow, the NRA and other gun lobbyists didn’t show up, and Hoffman was outnumbered by all the big education lobbyists, who said SB 34 was entirely impractical:
Doug Wermedal of the Associated School Boards of South Dakota said the bill is “a genuine representation of the concern for student safety,” but questioned its practicality.
…If all schools needed school resource officers, he said, it could cost $18 million or more “at a minimum.” Training teachers or other staff to serve as sentinels would cost far less, he said, but that would still carry additional costs.
Those costs don’t factor in potential spikes in insurance premiums, which he said are higher for schools with armed staff on site.
“Underwriters in these other states have, in many cases, stopped writing any policy for schools where armed responses exist,” Wermedal said.
More than one opponent pointed to the difficulty of finding qualified school resource officers.
In Pierre, “they’ve been trying for two years to hire an SRO and can’t because that person is needed in law enforcement in the community,” said Diana Miller, a lobbyist for the large school group [John Hult, “Armed Guard Requirement for Schools Defeated in Committee,” South Dakota Searchlight, 2024.01.11].
Senator Hoffman gamely rebutted, cost schmost! but Senate Education rejected SB 34 on a 5–2 vote (Democrats Bordeaux and Larson and Republicans Davis, Reed, and Schoenfish voted to kill it; Senators Pischke and Kolbeck voted to keep this bad idea alive).