Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said Wednesday that he opposes President Trump’s proposal to arm teachers and instead wants to bolster school safety by adding more metal detectors, panic buttons, security cameras and secure doors and windows in schools across the state.
Hogan said he would pay for the security enhancements by using $125 million from the state’s share of casino money that he wants to be spent on schools.
“There is no more important job than keeping our citizens safe, especially our children,” Hogan said during a news conference. “Classrooms should never be a place of fear for our children. No mom or dad should ever have to worry when they send their kids off to school whether their son or daughter is going to come home safely.”
Hogan said he also plans to spend an additional $50 million in operating funds each year for new school safety grants, which could be used for resource officers, counselors and additional technology. He said it should be up to individual schools to decide whether security officers should carry weapons.
“I don’t think we should be handing out guns to drama teachers and biology teachers,” Hogan said. “However, I think we ought to let the local school systems make decisions about whether they should have armed, trained resources officers that they believe could protect the schools.”
The school security measures proposed by Hogan come two weeks after 17 people were killed in Parkland, Florida, in one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.
The governor also said he supports legislation that would ban “bump stocks,” a device used to accelerate the firing of semiautomatic weapons and was used in last year’s mass shooting in Las Vegas. The legislation is a top priority for the Democratic-controlled legislature, and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) said he expects it to pass this session.
Hogan also said he backs a measure that would require domestic violence abusers to surrender their firearms and a bill that would allow family members or law enforcement agencies to seek court orders that would prohibit gun ownership an individual who has been deemed by a judge to be a danger to themselves or others.
“Individuals with mental illness should not have access to firearms, period,” Hogan said. “This year, let’s get it done.”
Hogan said the state needs to enact legislation that would “strengthen and clarify” existing law that requires domestic violence abusers to turn in their weapons, saying the “well-known dangerous combination” of guns and domestic violence has had disastrous consequences.
Last week, Prince George’s County Cpl. Mujahid Ramzziddin was killed after he intervened in a neighbor’s domestic violence incident. The suspect, Glenn Tyndell, was ordered by the courts to surrender his guns to a local sheriff’s office at least three times in the last five years.
Hogan, who went to Washington last week for a meeting of the National Governors Association, said he sensed a shift in thinking among leaders from across the country over school safety and access to guns.
“I’ve never seen this much focus and attention,” he said. “I think maybe we’ve reached a point where people are finally ready to get something done.”
Hogan’s position on bump stocks puts him at odds with the National Rifle Association, which endorsed his 2014 run for governor.
Jennifer Baker, a spokeswoman for the NRA, said the organization does not support legislation to ban bump stocks and instead thinks the devices should be regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.