WASHINGTON -- Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) is not taking a position yet on legislation introduced in her state to cross-train teachers as police officers in order to carry guns.
Fallin, in town Wednesday for the National Governors Association's State of the States address, told The Huffington Post that since the Oklahoma state legislature is not convening until February, she cannot offer a position on the legislation introduced by state Rep. Mark McCullough (R-Sapulpa) to arm teachers.
The proposal from McCullough, which first came to light in December following the mass fatal shooting at a school in Newtown, Conn., would train Oklahoma teachers as reserve police officers, allowing them to carry guns and provide protection if a mass murderer entered their school.
Fallin, a Second Amendment supporter, told HuffPost that she will "withhold judgment" on McCullough's legislation, until she reads the bill and it goes through the legislative process. McCullough told HuffPost last month that he has not discussed the idea, which he developed prior to Newtown, with either Fallin or other lawmakers.
Instead, Fallin said, she is focused on her own school safety plans, which include updating safety procedures in all of Oklahoma's schools. "My priority is for our schools to take their plans off the shelves and update them," she told HuffPost.
McCullough's proposal has drawn criticism from Sapulpa Schools Superintendent Kevin Burr, who told HuffPost last month that he does not believe a teacher's job should include carrying guns and shooting armed intruders. Burr would rather have police in every school in Oklahoma.
But McCullough stressed that his proposal would place law enforcement in schools in the form of teachers, and that teachers would be trained in shooting and gun safety while receiving police training.
He heard both support and opposition for the idea last month, he said.
"I've gotten a lot of very positive feedback, from high-level government officials to the off-duty police officer at the car wash," he said last month. "They are supportive of this idea. I've also gotten a lot of emails calling me an idiot and a fascist."
During the State of the States address, Fallin, the group's vice chairwoman, and NGA chairman Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D) said the governors' association would not be taking an official stand on gun control issues in the wake of Newtown. Markell touted several of his own plans, including improvements to mental health services and school security, and said he would introduce gun legislation in his state later this month.
NGA, which consists of governors of both parties, has traditionally stayed away from controversial social issues, sticking largely to state management-based, fiscal and economic development issues.
"NGA has not taken an official position," Fallin said. "Each state is different and has it's own unique needs."