Ga. leaders discuss ways to protect students - Dallas News |

Ga. leaders discuss ways to protect students

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State legislative and law enforcement leaders gathered at the Georgia state Capitol on Friday to reflect on the Connecticut school massacre and how best to protect our children. A grassroots parents' organization called Champions 4 Children held the rally.

Sandy Hook Elementary students returned to the classroom on Thursday, nearly three weeks after 20 of their classmates and six school faculty members were gunned down in front of them. Now Georgia leaders are discussing how to protect our state's children from such a tragedy.

"There is not a simple solution to this. If there was, we would already have fixed it," said Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan.

Keenan was among several law enforcement leaders who attended the "Champions 4 Children" rally on school violence. Some of his colleagues propose increased training to prevent a Sandy Hook in Georgia.

"Lockdown drills to be mandated to be documented, active shooter-type drills that can be participated in the schools,' said Lt. Bill Wellmaker of the Georgia Police Chiefs Association.

State Sen. Vincent Fort's response is to draft two new gun control bills. One would ban assault rifles; the other would limit the capacity of gun magazines.

"The time for political reticence or cowardice is over. Those of us who believe what we believe about preventing gun violence need to be proactive," said Fort.

But Keenan refuses to endorse any plan until he sees the facts first.

"I'm not taking a position on any particular are until I see the research that's going to support a particular area," Keenan said.

Organizer Tracey Austin says the National Rifle Association's proposal to post armed guards at schools should not be discounted, but she hesitates on a second NRA suggestion.

"I'm hoping we won't get to the point where we're going to have to see teachers who are armed. I want teachers to be in the business of teaching and taking care of our children," Austin said.

Champions 4 Children has also asked state lawmakers to sign a pledge to make the safety of Georgia's school children a priority every day.

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