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Gov. Beshear signs Senate Bill 8 into law

Posted at 3:19 PM, Feb 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-22 12:14:12-05

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Gov. Andy Beshear signed Senate Bill 8 into law on Friday afternoon.

The bill requires any officers assigned to a Kentucky school to be armed. The bill passed in the House, 78-8, on Feb. 7 after previously passing in the Senate, 34-1.

SB8 is a follow-up to last year's school safety law that was passed after a deadly shooting at Marshall County High School in western Kentucky in 2018. The shooting killed two students and injured more than a dozen others.

The governor held a news conference on Friday , explaining why he signed the bill despite objections from education activists.

Governor Andy Beshear began his remarks on a somber note, recognizing the victims of the schooling shootings in Marshall County, and also at Heath High School in Paducah in 1997.

"We must be able to stop the worst of the worst, which we have now seen several times just in my lifetime," said Gov. Beshear.

One year after a sweeping school safety law was passed into law, the governor says they now need to provide school resource officers the tools to protect students.

"I simply cannot ask a school resource officer to stop an armed gunman entering a school without them having the ability to not only achieve this mission, but also to protect themselves," said Gov. Beshear.

Senate Bill 8 did enjoy overwhelming bipartisan support in the legislature, but there were opponents roaming the halls of the Capitol this week.

Those included students, who made the trip to urge the governor to veto SB 8. Beshear did acknowledge those students.

He said he recognizes there are concerns about armed officers in their schools, and that's why he says he needs the help of students to develop the curriculum to train these officers.

"I think what we're really dealing with here is a deeper feeling by some students in some communities that law enforcement inside their schools makes them less safe. It's that root concern that we have to address, which is bigger than just Senate Bill 8," said Gov. Beshear.

How the administration plans on addressing those issues was not immediately clear.