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South Dakota bill that would arm teachers advances

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A South Dakota Senate panel is considering a bill that would allow school districts to arm teachers and other school staffers with guns, the Associated Press reports.

The state's House has already approved the measure, the AP notes. The Senate State Affairs Committee scheduled a public hearing on the bill for Friday.

Similar proposals have been made in Minnesota. Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder, has said he planned to introduce a bill that would allow the arming of teachers, although the legislation hasn't been officially introduced yet. "The cop can't be everywhere so the best person to defend yourself is yourself," he said.

The National Rifle Association has advocated arming teachers to better protect schools against armed intruders.

NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said a trained armed security guard could have confronted gunman Adam Lanza during the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. "Will you at least admit it's possible that 26 innocent lives might have been spared?" LaPierre asked.

Gov. Mark Dayton has said arming teachers "defies common sense."

Liberal critics have said: "Are you nuts? Militarize schools?"

Critics include education groups. Two leading national teachers unions called the proposal "astounding and disturbing."

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