Rural Texas School Jurisdiction Will Allow Teachers to Be Armed
By Mark Anderson
The well-known slogan “Don’t Mess with Texas” has taken on a new meaning: A small Texas school district will let its teachers and staff bring their guns to school this fall with relatively few strings attached.
Why? To actually defend the students and employees in the event an armed intruder starts shooting. Imagine police arresting a wounded school intruder, or bagging a dead one, instead of once again cleaning up a carnage of dead and wounded students and staff.
This is apparently a first in the United States. The K-12 Harrold Independent School District has about 113 students. The elected board of this single-campus, rural school district “unanimously approved the plan and parents have not objected,” Reuters news service reported.
According to the district superintendent, David Thweatt, traditional school lockdowns and cameras are far from foolproof, as AFP has confirmed at several Texas, Michigan and Indiana school campuses where certain entrances supposed to be locked, even during routine operations, often are unlocked. Even when locked, a trespasser could easily shoot his way in.
“We have a lock-down situation, we have cameras, but the question we had to answer is: what if somebody gets in? What are we going to do?” Thweatt said. “It’s just common sense.”
Harrold is an unincorporated community in eastern Wilbarger County that borders Oklahoma, about 150 miles northwest of Fort Worth. The district’s campus is 500 feet from heavily trafficked U.S. 287, making it a tempting get away route.
As Thweatt told the local Star-Telegram: “When the federal government started making schools gun-free zones, that’s when all of these shootings started. Why would you put it out there that a group of people can’t defend themselves? It’s like saying ‘sic ’em’ to a dog.”
Teachers and staffers who want to bring their guns to the Harrold campus as an added layer of protection—when police too often have proven themselves tardy and flatfooted in deadly school shootings, including those at Virginia Tech University and Columbine High School in Colorado—have to be certified by the state of Texas to carry a concealed handgun, and get crisis training and permission from school officials.
Ammunition that ricochets minimally may be required. Thweatt will not say how many of the 50 or so teachers and staff members will be armed this fall. He does not want students or potential attackers to know.
Congress once barred guns at schools nationwide, but the Supreme Court struck down the law, although state and local communities could adopt their own laws.
Texas bars guns at its schools unless the schools decide otherwise. In the Harrold School case, the federal government is refraining from abridging the intrinsic right to keep and bear arms, thereby allowing the states and localities to work matters out without interference, in the spirit of the 10th Amendment to the Constitution.
Reach AFP Corresponding Editor Mark Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Issue # 35, September 1, 2008)