Georgia Says

Morning News, Savannah, Georgia, on arming teachers:

School officials across Georgia should advance to the head of the class when it comes to arming teachers. According to published reports, few, if any, school districts plan to do it, even though a sweeping state law goes into effect Tuesday and expands where Georgians can legally carry firearms.

On July 1, each district has the option of arming teachers or staff, but requiring them to set training schedules. In other words, just giving a pistol to the staffer who's closest to the front door was never an option, although that's of little comfort.

Law-abiding Georgians have a constitutional right to own and carry firearms.

But the idea of arming teachers, paraprofessionals, principals, secretaries and others employed in school districts, as a way to prevent or bring down killers who prey on school children, was poorly conceived and mostly motivated by election-year politics.

If a school district has a public safety concern — and many of them do — then they should hire professionals. Putting campus police in the hallways is more responsible than giving pistols and shooting lessons to math teachers or lunchroom monitors.

Georgia isn't the first state to respond to school violence by allowing staff to carry guns.

After 20 children and six adults died during a 2012 elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., at least nine states passed bills in 2013 authorizing armed school personnel, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Other states had similar programs in place before that shooting. In 2014, at least 14 more states including Georgia introduced similar bills.

Phillip Hartley, an attorney who works with the Georgia Schools Boards Association and dozens of local boards, talked to a room of board members about the issue at a recent conference. He said he felt a "reluctance to be the first" without a serious push from parents.

"There just hasn't been that kind of groundswell," Mr. Hartley said.

Give school officials an "A'' for using good judgment about an idea that's a dud.

The Augusta Chronicle, Georgia, on citizens' religious beliefs:

If you like your religious freedoms, you can keep them. For now.

The U.S. Supreme Court narrowly ruled Monday that business owners with religious objections can't be forced to pay for women's birth control under the Obamacare law.

The 5-4 opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, held that imposing the contraceptive mandate on closely held corporations violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Essentially, the court said if you are morally opposed to birth control or abortion, you shouldn't have to buy it for others just because you offered them a job.

Though the ruling specifically dealt with the Hobby Lobby chain and other companies whose owners have deeply held religious views, it is really a First Amendment victory for all Americans.

"Today's decision was a victory for freedom," the National Center for Public Policy Research said. "Because a person who does not have the right to order his or her professional and personal life in accordance with his or her religious beliefs does not have freedom at all."

It is the first major challenge to Obamacare to come before the court since the justices upheld the law's individual requirement to buy health insurance two years ago. This will send the Obama administration hunting for another way to give women free contraception if they can't get through their employers' insurance plans.

Had the mandate been upheld, a company objecting to the contraceptive mandate would have had three choices: violate their faith; pay ruinous fines; or go out of business.

The ruling applies to businesses so closely held that there is no essential difference between the corporation and its owners. Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby, which employs more than 15,000 full-time workers in 41 states, was founded by a family of evangelical Christians.

The other major company involved in the case, Pennsylvania-based cabinet company Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., is owned by a Mennonite family.

What's more frightening than the contraception mandate the Obama administration dismissively tried to cram down employers' throats through the Affordable Care Act is the fact that it was nearly upheld as law - only a single Supreme Court justice stood in the way.

Freedom in this country is hanging by a thread.




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