During the first voting session of the new year Monday evening, several Bradley County commissioners commented on State Rep. Eric Watson’s recent press conference in which he plans to introduce legislation in this year’s General Assembly permitting certain school personnel to carry a weapon in schools.
The bill would give schools the option to have school staff members and faculty become highly trained handgun carry permit holders. They would then have to obtain permission from the local school system and take crisis management training. Types of ammunition permitted will also be included in the bill.
Commissioner and former school principal Bill Winters said, “It seems to be a well-balanced, thoughtful approach. It’s not for every teacher. The legislation that has been mentioned is excellent. It’s additional support to help protect the treasures of our community, our children.”
Commissioner and former school principal Terry Caywood said, “Our director of schools has already been proactive with several things he has already done. With this legislation and some of the enforcement steps they are implementing, I think we are heading in the right direction.”
Commissioner Charlotte Peak-Jones said, “Rep. Eric Watson’s legislation is to not mandate but give our local bodies the option of letting teachers and other people in the school system actually have arms in classroom. We ask our teachers to come out here and be first responders in emergencies in our school systems. This is just going to be another tool in the tool box for those teachers hopefully.”
Commissioner Adam Lowe said, “There have been times where this administration has stepped up to be the voice. We do not have legislative power, but we do have the opportunity to speak on behalf of the thousands of people we represent. I think this may become an occasion where that would be valuable. I had planned on introducing a resolution next week which would essentially go to our elected representatives who are going to take up this debate in the coming year. I think it gives them some ammunition, pardon the pun, if they have some declared statement from the localized governing body. Any legislation in support of existing gun laws and existing measures is what we would like to see. The community will support the citizen’s right to bear arms and protect themselves. I look forward to giving you the resolution next week and I look forward to us discussing it. We have an opportunity to be a voice for the people we represent. It is a way for us to say to our representatives at the state and federal level this is where we stand as a community and this is where we would like you to stand when it comes time to vote.”
In other business, Commissioner Jeff Yarber and County Mayor D. Gary Davis presented a proclamation honoring Constable Ira Cox to his widow Virginia Cox. Part of the proclamation states:
Ira Cox made a commitment to emergency service in 1954, the beginning to a lifelong commitment to volunteer services and his community. He served in many leadership roles in support of our community’s emergency services including Acting Chief of Rescue, Assistant Chief, Safety Officer and Lieutenant as a member of the Bradley County Rescue Service for fifty-eight years.
Ira Cox served as a professional and volunteer firefighter with the Cleveland Fire Department, as a reserve officer for the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office and as a constant and dedicated resource for our emergency services. He was elected Constable in the Fifth District in 1998 serving over 14 years in office and named “Constable of the Year” in 2008.
Mr. Cox was instrumental in raising funds to purchase the “Jaws of Life” for Bradley County and was the first person in the county to use this equipment that has saved many lives. He has dedicated his life to improving the safety and security of Bradley County citizens.
The Bradley County Commission recognizes and honors the immeasurable contributions and the dedicated service that Ira Cox made to the emergency services in Cleveland and Bradley County. The Bradley County Rescue Service, as well as areas of emergency services, benefited greatly from the humble service and commitment of Ira Cox.
The Bradley County Commission will hold its next work session meeting next Monday at noon.