A new program will allow Alabama school administrators to carry firearms, Gov. Kay Ivey announced Wednesday. The Alabama Sentry Program will arm administrators in schools that don’t have a school resource officer. Training will take place over the summer, Ivey said. The program will be voluntary and will authorize so-called sentries for “the use of lethal force to defend the students, faculty, staff, and visitors of his or her school from the threat of imminent bodily harm or death by an armed intruder.”
To carry a firearm at school, an administrator would have to pass a drug screening, mental health assessment and a “stress test” according to the plan. Participation would also require approval from the local school superintendent, local school board, and county sheriff. The program requires armed administrators to keep their firearms secured.
Eric Mackey, Alabama’s new schools superintendent, applauded the move in a statement Wednesday saying the program is “one way for us to put more safety resources in schools without having to seek new funding.”
Ivey said participants may be trained over the summer to begin carrying weapons during the upcoming school year. The Alabama Sheriff’s Association has endorsed the program. Alabama Secretary of Law Enforcement Hal Taylor joined Ivey for Wednesday’s annoucement. “School security is one of the highest priorities for law enforcement and this program will help first responders identify and stop threats quicker and before they happen,” he said.
During the last legislative session, Republican Rep. Will Ainsworth, who is running for lieutenant governor, introduced a bill to arm teachers. The bill faced strong opposition from educators and other gun safety groups.
Last year, the University of Alabama at Birmingham held active school shooter drills to train people to respond to armed intruders.