Tennessee’s Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill Wednesday out of the state’s Republican-controlled state legislature that aims to enhance school safety across the state following the deadly shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville earlier this year.
The March shooting claimed the lives of three 9-year-old children and three adults, and since that time, Lee has been vocal about passing gun control measures like an order of protection law.
“Nothing is more important than Tennessee students and teachers returning home from school safely each day,” Lee said in a news release. “Every year since 2019, we’ve worked with the General Assembly to prioritize school safety, and this year, we’ve passed significant measures to fund an armed SRO for every public school, enhance mental health support and boost physical security at public and private schools across Tennessee.”
Under the bipartisan legislation, security guards will be required to receive active shooter training and schools’ exterior doors must be locked during school hours.
Public and private schools across the state will also need to develop an annual school safety plan to be shared with law enforcement, and annual active shooter drills in schools will be enhanced.
Additionally, school districts will also establish threat assessment teams and any school buildings constructed or remodeled after July 1 will have to include security enhancements such as doors that can be locked from the inside.
Lee also worked with the general assembly to provide $230 million in school safety funding that will be used for a number of enhancements including putting armed school resource officers in every public school and more school-based behavioral health liaisons across the state.
“This year’s extraordinary funding for school and student safety will provide noticeable protections for all of our schools,” Republican state House Speaker Cameron Sexton said. “Whether adding a School Resource Officer (SRO) in every school, hardening security systems at facilities, and doubling the number of resources for students with mental health issues - our schools, staff, and teachers will now have more resources at their disposal to support the physical, mental, and emotional health of all Tennessee students.”
The Republican governor has urged lawmakers to pass additional gun control measures like an enhanced order of protection law in the aftermath of the shooting and said that he would sign an executive order strengthening the state’s background check system.
On Monday, Lee announced that he would call a special legislative session in August to address guns after state lawmakers adjourned without passing an order of protection law earlier this year.
This story has been updated with additional information.