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'We have to have secure schools': Kentucky lawmaker files bill to close loophole related to having officers in schools

If passed, House Bill 63 would close a loophole from a 2019 law where districts could opt-out of hiring an armed officer if they couldn’t afford it.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Last week, we showed you how, with about 4 months left of the school year, Kentucky’s largest school district has already set a new 5-year record for guns found in schools, based on the data we have available. 

About 4 in 10 schools in Kentucky have armed officers inside them, according to an August report from the Office of the State School Security Marshal.

One lawmaker is fighting for legislation to make armed officers at school a requirement. He says he wants to prevent students from bringing guns into schools. He’s facing resistance.

Rep. Kevin Bratcher even though it's not known for sure how many guns go unreported in schools, said the data is troubling.

“Of course, I don’t know if there is, but it's troubling how many guns are in schools," said Rep. Kevin Bratcher, (R) KY 29th District.

Bratcher believes students have unprecedented access to guns. After all, it’s estimated Kentucky has the nation’s highest number of gun sales for every one thousand residents, according to a WalletHub analysis based on data from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Bratcher says guns are coming into our schools. 

“It's heartbreaking that that's going on," he says.

“What's your reaction to the number of guns confiscated from schools so far this year?” asked Vasan.

“It's horrible," said Bratcher. 

We shared new data we obtained from multiple open records requests: photos of guns confiscated from students within Jefferson County Public Schools over the last year, and yearly totals of guns found in JCPS schools.

RELATED: JCPS sets 5-year record for guns found in school, based on available data

“You know that there's probably double in there that they're not finding," said Bratcher. 

So far this school year, at least 15 guns have been found in JCPS schools. That’s a new 5-year record, based on the data we have available. We have about four months left of the school year.

Bratcher tells us the data reflects why his proposed legislation is critical.

“This bill will make schools safer and make JCPS follow the law," he said. 

If passed, House Bill 63 would close a loophole from a 2019 law where districts could opt-out of hiring an armed officer if they couldn’t afford it.

“Because we've got to have secure schools," said Bratcher.

He says his legislation would pressure Kentucky schools to have at least one armed officer inside every campus by August 1st or have a plan to achieve that. 

“They are trying to respond to a symptom, but they're not responding to the actual root cause of the illness," said Corrie Shull, a JCPS board member.

Shull believes the root cause is growing access to guns in the community. To prevent guns in schools, he says more productive legislation would be aimed at restricting that access nationwide. 

“Actually trying to put forth responsible gun legislation," said Shull.

Shull says he applauds JCPS’ recent actions to keep kids safe. The school district recently unveiled a roughly $7 million plan to increase security. The plan involves having more unarmed staff inside schools, with armed staff assigned to groups of schools. 

“I know JCPS is doing what they can. But they need to do more," said Bratcher.

Critics to Bratcher’s plan argue it’s just not realistic, with shortages of police officers nationwide. But Bratcher is moving ahead with his legislation. He says it may be about a month before his bill gets to the governor’s desk. Then it’s up to the governor to either veto the bill or sign it into law.  

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