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Arizona House Republicans favor training, arming campus ‘marshals’

At left, Arizona Senate President Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler, is pictured at the Capitol in Phoenix on Jan. 11, 2017, with House Speaker J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler. (AP File Photo)
LISTEN: JD Mesnard, Arizona State House Speaker

PHOENIX — Arizona school districts would be able to opt in or out of arming campus employees — “marshals” — a protection idea that has gained support from Republican leaders, especially House Speaker J.D. Mesnard.

Teachers, principals and maintenance staffers could be among those who would be trained and then authorized to get to a secure weapons stash, arm themselves and don bulletproof vests during a school shooting.

“I think it definitely has merit … Districts can decide if it makes sense for them, but I think it’s definitely a policy worth exploring,” Mesnard said Wednesday on KTAR 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News.

Mesnard agreed with Senate President Steve Yarborough, who said “that’s just a lot fewer kids (an active shooter is) going to be shooting,” with a marshal on site.

Gov. Doug Ducey has already said he didn’t want teachers carrying weapons and he told President Donald Trump the same thing in February during a governors’ association meeting.

Nothing about arming teachers or school employees was included in the schools and communities safety plan he released in March.

In an interview, he said he would be open to using teachers who were veterans or former law enforcement or had training and preferred law enforcement be separate from teaching.

“How do we pay for enough (school resource officers) in every school?” Mesnard said.

“One of the concerns my caucus has in all of this is, we’re going to everything we can to prevent these situations from happening, but once they do, unfortunately, in that moment, who is there to respond?

“If you don’t have a school resource officer, then the next-best thing is somebody who has had some training, who can respond. Because when seconds matter, minutes is just too long to wait for law enforcement to get there.”

He reiterated it would up to the schools to sign on.

“We have heard from some that would be interested,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.