Handguns are offered for sale at Maine Military Supply in Holden. Credit: Gabor Degre / BDN

Maine lawmakers could debate bills this session that allow for armed security guards at schools and would allow staff to be armed on school property.

One of the bills, sponsored by Rep. Steven Foster, R-Dexter, is called An Act to Allow Certain Employees to Carry Firearms on School Property.

It would allow a school employee to be exempt from the prohibition on possessing a firearm on public school property or the property of an approved private school or discharging a firearm within 500 feet of such schools.

However, the employee would have to have successfully completed certification and training prescribed by the board of trustees of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. And the person would have to be authorized by the school board to process or discharge a firearm “for the purpose of enhancing the safety and security of the school and in defense of students, staff and members of the public on school premises.”

A school employee would not have to be armed without their voluntary consent.

Foster’s bill has not been scheduled for a public hearing yet.

The language for two other bills have not yet been released.

The working title for a bill by Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Androscoggin, is called An Act to Allow School Administrative Units to Establish Rules, Procedures and Guidelines for Properly Trained Staff to Carry a Concealed Handgun on School Property While Acting in Their Official Capacities. However, after reviewing Foster’s bill, Brakey said he will likely support that version, which is very similar to what Brakey intended to put forward.

“This is about local control and protecting students. In many rural Maine communities, the nearest police officer may be an hour away, leaving schools defenseless,”  Brakey said in a statement. “That is why local districts should have an option to authorize an employee, with regular crisis response training, to access a firearm for the protection of students in an emergency.”

Rep. John Andrew, R-Paris, has proposed a bill with the working title An Act to Provide for Professional Armed Security in Schools.

Andrews hopes the legislation would empower schools boards to be able to contract with qualified people for their armed security needs if they choose to do so.