A Southern California lawmaker known for his strong anti-gun control stance has introduced a bill in the state legislature to pay for armed staff members in California’s public schools.
Tim Donnelly, a Republican assemblyman who represents mountain and desert areas of San Bernardino County -- including Big Bear, Victorville and Barstow -- said he will ask the state to pony up funds to pay for training so-called marshals to patrol schools.
The idea picks up on a proposal made by the National Rifle Association in the wake of last month’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Proponents argue that armed guards at Sandy Hook could have intervened after an armed gunman made his way onto the campus and began shooting children and teachers.
Donnelly's bill would authorize local school districts to use their general fund budgets to pay for firearm training for any school employee "who is qualified to be trained and is willing to carry a concealed firearm on campus," according to a press release from the assemblyman's office. Staff members, from teachers to janitors, would volunteer for the training, according to a spokeswoman for Donnelly.
"In light of the devastating tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, we must develop a plan that will provide both true, immediate protection to our children and teachers, and a deterrent to future predators. That is why I have introduced AB 202," Donnelly said in a statement.
The bill also goes one step further, exempting the school districts from revealing the names of the marshals, or any identifying information about them.
Exempting the volunteers from disclosure under California's Public Records Act will protect the anonymity of the marshals, Donnelly said.
Donnelly is an outspoken advocate of gun rights. Last year, he made headlines for having a loaded .45 caliber firearm in his briefcase at a Southern California airport. The legislator, who called the incident “an unfortunate mistake,” had been flying from Ontario Airport to Sacramento for the opening of the legislative session.
Donnelly is also a founder of a large Southern California chapter of the Minutemen, a vocal anti-illegal immigration group.
In November, Donnelly formed an exploratory committee to run for governor in 2014.
AB 202 was coauthored by state Sen. Steve Knight and assembly members Shannon Grove, Curt Hagman, Diane Harkey, Brian Jones, Melissa Melendez and Don Wagner.
Clarification: An earlier version of this story stated that the bill would pay for school districts to arm volunteers. In fact, the bill only concerns existing school staff members who would volunteer for the training.