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A bill that would create a "school marshal" program for training armed guards for schools passed the Montana Senate on Friday in a 29-21 near-party line vote. 

House Bill 567, sponsored by Rep. Derek Skees, a Whitefish Republican, lays out requirements for what would be included in a training program for the gun-toting school marshals, but leaves the actual program design to the Department of Justice and school trustees.

Montana school trustees can already arm whomever they choose in schools under existing state law, with no requirements for training. A 2017 statewide records request found that only three schools in the state armed a staff member, and two more authorized a staffer to carry but they chose not to; at least one additional school has put the framework in place to arm a staffer since then.

A Bullock spokeswoman said Wednesday the governor is concerned about opposition from law enforcement and "will be talking with experts in law enforcement before making a decision on this bill."

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The Montana School Board Association supported the bill, but several police groups and education advocates opposed it. 

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Education Reporter

Education reporter for the Billings Gazette.