December 20, 2012
To a number of state lawmakers, the solution to preventing another school slaughter like the one that devastated Newtown, Connecticut is simple: more guns. Specifically, guns in the hands of teachers and school personnel.
By Wednesday, lawmakers in eight states were prepared to introduce legislation to allow – even require – guns in schools, either in the hands of police officers assigned to schools or secretly carried by school personnel. Schools, they say, have become prime targets specifically because they are gun-free zones, but a killer might think twice about targeting a school whose teachers and administrators could shoot back. “Why do you call 911 when you’re in trouble? Because you want someone with a gun to come and help you,” says Virginia Assemblyman Bob Marshall. The details vary, but most of the plans put forth would require armed school employees to have a concealed weapon permit, undergo extensive weapon-use training, and limit ammunition to frangible bullets that break apart rather than ricochet.
It’s not a new idea. In Texas, individual school systems can set policies allowing armed employees and that’s what tiny Harrold, population 463, whose 103 students all attend a single school, did in 2007.It’s a thoroughly rural district, says Superintendent David Thweatt – also the school’s debate team coach – but one with U.S. Highway 287, a major artery from the Texas panhandle into Oklahoma, as a neighbor. “We’re isolated,” says Thweatt, “but we also have a four-lane highway coming out of Dallas-Ft. Worth in front of the school and a lot of traffic. And we have an extreme meth problem in our area.”