COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA)– Representative Wendell Gilliard calls his bill the “Metal Detectors in Public Schools Act” and it would do exactly what the name says. The bill would require walk-through metal detectors at every public entrance of public elementary, middle, and high schools in the state.
Gilliard says the state cannot wait to take preventive action. “Are we going to wait for another columbine or Sandyhook or are we going to we need to act and we need to act swiftly. I always tell people if the technology is there then use it,” said Gilliard.
If it passes, Gilliard’s plan would have the safety devices installed in time for the next school year. In the last few years several South Carolina school boards have discussed adding detectors, including those in Charleston and Greenville. In each case, worried parents raised the issue after gun-related incidents at school.
The average metal detector costs more than $1000 and this bill calls for all school districts to have them. And while the districts see the need for the metal detectors some are concerned about the cost.
Jasper County is a majority poverty school district. The superintendent supports the measure, but wants to know more about financial impact on the districts.
“There’s no value or dollars that value human life. We can’t look at the amount of dollars, but what does concern us is that many times they start out with these great proposals and a lot of times it does filter down to the schools,” said Donald Andrews, superintendent of Jasper County Schools.
Gilliard says costs and funding would become a state budget issue, once it passes through the committee process. He says safety is the more important issue.
“You can go to any county here in the state and look at the statistics for weapons in the schools and I’m not just talking about our high school students I’m talking about elementary and even our colleges and universities,” explained Gilliard.