Governor Henry McMaster will bring together experts in law enforcement, school safety and education Thursday to discuss ways to prevent South Carolina schools from being the site of a deadly shooting incident.
“We’re going to do whatever it takes to keep the children in this country safe while they’re in school,” he told reporters during an impromptu gaggle. “We’ll do whatever it takes. There are a number of things that need to be done.”
The issue of school safety comes after 17 people, most of them students, were killed in a shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida two weeks ago.
McMaster is calling the summit Pathways to Protection: A Roadmap for Student Safety in South Carolina. The governor said he discussed the issue with President Trump while at a meeting of the nation’s governors earlier this week. He said the issue goes beyond gun control.
“A lot of this stems from the — a violent society and violent exposure the children have to games and circumstances and television,” he insisted. “A lot of this — these things go way back when you look at the root causes.”
One major issue is addressing mental health problems. In his budget proposal, the governor funded the Department of Mental Health’s request of $250,000 for its school-based services. McMaster also said he’s requested funding more law enforcement officers at schools. He proposed a $5 million pilot program that would begin the process of having a certified law enforcement officer in every school in South Carolina.
“The would-be shooters, the would-be killers, these people must know that if they go into the schools to hurt our children that there will be immediate consequences,” he said. “They will be stopped and the only way to do that is to have armed, trained, certified personnel who are trained for this kind of thing there.”
Although McMaster said he would not require teachers become certified to carry concealed weapons, he thinks they should be allowed to carry a concealed weapon on campus if they have a permit to do so.
“South Carolina schools and classrooms must be safe environments where learning, innovation, and greatness can be achieved without fear, violence, or distraction,” he said. “And our educators must be provided the necessary training and resources to recognize and report people who demonstrate violent or unstable behavior. I look forward to taking a collaborative approach with representatives from all of the necessary groups and interested parties to develop best practices and procedures to ensure the safety of our young people.”
The forum will be from 2-5 p.m. at the University of South Carolina’s Alumni Center in Columbia.