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Texas Teachers Can Carry Guns

August 19, 2008 03:27 PM
by Josh Katz
A Texas school district has given its teachers the option to carry guns, raising questions about how far schools should go to keep their kids safe.

Texas School District Lets Faculty Pack Heat

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Harrold Independent School District in North Texas made history by allowing its teachers and staff members to carry guns. The school board voted to permit teachers to bring concealed weapons to school this year as long as they meet certain requirements, making the district the first in the country to do so, The Guardian reports.   

The school’s superintendent, David Thweatt, said the district, in a town of less than 300 residents, thought such a policy would boost security in an area where the closest sheriff’s office is 25 miles away. He also argues that the proximity of a major highway makes the school district an easy “target.”

“We are 30 minutes from law enforcement,” Thweatt told The Guardian. “How long do you think it would take to kill all 150 of us? It would be a bloodbath.”

When speaking with NPR, Thweatt brought up the recent school shootings in Pennsylvania and Virginia Tech, and mentioned how powerless the students and the teachers were.

The teachers would receive training in crisis management
, like hostage situations, The Guardian reports. In addition, teachers must obtain a state firearms license, and they will be required to use bullets less prone to ricocheting. Thweatt told NPR that the training is “extensive” and similar to “police officer training.” He downplays the traditional school security guards, claiming that their guns are not concealed and are thus potentially more dangerous. On the other hand, he says, teachers “professional” and “used to the school environment.”

When asked what would prevent a schoolteacher from using guns for more malicious purposes, Thweatt replied that he doesn’t allow individuals with certain temperaments to work in his classrooms.

The policy has prompted a flurry of criticism, most notably from gun control groups. Gayle Fallon, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers, commented on the decision: “It’s up there with the worst ideas in the history of education.”

Opinion & Analysis: Thoughts on the school gun policy

In WorldNetDaily, Ellen Ratner expresses a similar sentiment to Fallon in her response to the school gun policy: “this is just a first step in the decivilizing of America,” she argues. “I suppose it’s easier to quell student outbursts with a well-placed head shot from a .45 caliber than actually having to deal with the kid—counseling takes too long and costs too much.”

Shafquat Ali responded to the school district’s decision from an international perspective. Writing in Arab News, she expressed the concerns of some parents who send their children to the United States: “we send our kids to schools where teenage pregnancy is commonplace, drug and alcohol menace is rife and deadly shootings in the campus make headlines every now and then.” She goes on to say, “As in-campus crime and violence spirals in the U.S., it is hardly surprising that a tiny Texas school district has decided to allow teachers and staff members to carry concealed firearms to protect themselves when classes begin this month.”

Dan Slater of The Wall Street Journal Law Blog comments on the Texas school district’s decision: “Gun advocates, it would seem, are emboldened in the wake of D.C. v. Heller—the recent Scotus case, in which the Court ruled that the Second Amendment ‘protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditional lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.’”

Slater writes about a battle being waged in Georgia over allowing individuals to carry handguns to the airport. Georgia recently passed a law permitting those with licenses to “carry guns in state parks, restaurants that serve alcohol and on mass transit,” according to Slater. The state is even considering letting people bring guns to church. On Monday, August 11, however, a Georgia District Court would not overturn the ban on carrying handguns at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Related Topic: D.C. v. Heller and its national effects

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