A bill from state Rep. Eric Watson that would permit certain school personnel to carry a weapon in schools has gained NRA support.

Watson, a Republican from Bradley County’s 22nd District, announced Wednesday that the National Rifle Association had expressed support for his School Safety Act of 2013, which he plans to introduce during the current legislative session. Watson added that lawmakers from at least nine other states had inquired about his legislation to consider it for their own states.

“Schools choosing to adopt the policy will have the option to hire security or appoint highly trained staff, with training which is similar to a school resource officer, which will be an additional safeguard in protecting students,” Watson said in a news release.


Watson announced his plans to introduce the bill earlier this month at a press conference held at Bradley High School. He did not hesitate in making the connection between the timing of his proposal and the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn.

Along with allowing staff members to become “highly trained” handgun carry permit holders, the bill would dictate what kinds of ammunition could be carried in order to minimize the risk of ricochet. Staff would also be trained in crisis management.

Watson’s bill is not the only piece of gun legislation pertaining to schools floated by members of the General Assembly this year. But passage of the measure will undoubtedly face challenges, as House Speaker Beth Harwell has already said on record she opposes the idea of allowing teachers to carry guns in classrooms.