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Dayton: Arming Teachers ‘Defies Common Sense’

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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ST. PAUL (WCCO) – Days after the tragedy of the elementary school shootings in Connecticut, the Governor of Minnesota says there’s not much the state can do to regulate weapons.

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton says the Connecticut shootings are a “horrific tragedy,” but he says guns are mostly a federal — not a state — issue.

“At this point, I don’t think we have an option under the 2nd amendment to do what some people are advocating,” said Dayton.

Dayton says he will re-activate a school safety task force that was dismantled four years ago for budget reasons. He also noted that Minnesota law already requires every school district to develop an emergency plan.

“I cannot guarantee absolutely 100 percent that what happened in Connecticut is inconceivable to happen here,” said Dayton. “I think it’s extremely unlikely. It’s like getting on an airplane.”

However, one Minnesota state lawmaker thinks he has a way to help protect students in school, or prevent a similar shooting.

Republican Rep. Tony Cornish says it’s time to arm the teachers.

“Just like a pilot is allowed to carry guns in a very controlled environment,” explained Cornish. “We found out that nothing else works, and I think teachers are the best people to confront this. Even an armed security or an armed cop doesn’t do a lot of good if they get by him or her. Then they’ve got all these classrooms that they can go to. So, I think the best defense is a teacher.”

The Cornish bill would make handguns voluntary for teachers. It would require special handgun training beyond the training now required in Minnesota for concealed weapons.

Dayton, however, says arming thousands of teachers is not the answer.

“I think that would increase the danger. To have weapons in classrooms, to me, just defies common sense,” said Dayton.

Meanwhile, the incoming chairs of Public Safety Committees in the Minnesota House and Senate say they will hold hearings when the 2013 Legislature convenes in January.

State Rep. Michael Paymar says he’s prepared to consider legislation tightening up private gun show purchases of firearms and high capacity magazines.

“We seem to have this sort of ‘surrender mentality,” said Paymar, a Democrat from St. Paul. “We should not throw up our arms and say there’s nothing we can do.”

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