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Gun-toting teachers? Texas lawmakers say yes

By Yukio Strachan     Dec 20, 2012 in Crime
How do we prevent mass shootings like the one last Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut –– give teachers a gun, Texas lawmakers say.
Supporters of the idea, such as State Rep. Louie Gohmert (R., Texas), say contrary to those on the left, gun-safety laws don't prevent gun violence: only more guns will.
Speaking on "Fox News Sunday," Gohmert argued that if beloved Sandy Hook Principal Dawn Hochsprung, who was killed trying to protect her students from the gunman 20-year-old Adam Lanza, had had a rifle in her office, 20 young children and six adults might still be here today.
“I wish to God [the principal] had had an M-4 in her office, locked up, so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out and she didn’t have to lunge heroically with nothing in her hands, but she takes him out, takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids,” he said.
“It is just logical,” Texas Representative Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, who plans to introduce legislation for teachers to pack heat, told San Antonio's KENS 5-TV. “’No gun zones’ means that there’s a big sign that says ‘hey we have no way to protect ourselves.’”
Texas Governor Rick Perry supports the decision.“In the state of Texas, with our concealed handgun license, if you have been duly backgrounded and trained and you are a concealed handgun license carrying individual, you should be able to carry your handgun anywhere in this state,” Perry said Monday at a tea party event, FOX8 reported.
The Guardian Plan
For the past four years, the Harrold Independent School District, a district in northwest Texas with roughly 100 students, has allowed teachers to carry concealed handguns.
Superintendent David Thweatt is the architect of the district's “Guardian Plan,” a blueprint for arming school staff set up in the wake of the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech.
“My call to parents at the end of the day is ‘your child is coming home, the bad guy is dead,’" Supt. Thweatt told Fox news.
In order for teachers and staff to carry a pistol, each Guardian must obtain a Texas conceal-and-carry permit; must be authorized to carry by the district; must receive training in crisis management and hostile situations and must lock-and-load their weapons with “frangible” bullets that are designed to break apart when colliding with a target.
“They go through people,” Thweatt assured.
“They’re very similar to what the air marshals use. The bullets are glued together with polymers, and we insist upon them because we don’t want the bullet to ricochet off a wall after it’s fired and hit a child.”
Thweatt says parents have embraced the Guardian Plan. CaRae Reinisch, who lives in the nearby community of Elliott, said she took her children out of a larger school and enrolled them in Harrold two years ago, partly because she felt they would be safer in a building with armed teachers, The Associated Press reported.
"I think it's a great idea for trained teachers to carry weapons," Reinish said.
Yet some parents say guns and schools don’t mix, and worry they will only cause problems.
Wendy Sulak has guns locked up in her home, but when it comes to school she said, “I think that’s crazy.”
For 26 years Elena Saner has been at De Zavala Elementary, but the idea of anyone besides a police officer carrying a gun inside the school makes this teacher uneasy.
"If teachers were to wield their guns, I think they would get in the way of first responders not knowing who the gunman is," Saner said.
But that's the beauty of the “Guardian Plan”.
“We’re 18 miles and 30 minutes from the nearest police station, so we are our first responders," Thweatt said. "If something happened here, we would have to protect our children."
Thweatt said participating staff are anonymous and known only to Thweatt and the school board, which must approve each application for an employee to become a Guardian.
“We give our ‘Guardians’ training in addition to the regular Texas conceal-and-carry training,” Thweatt, whose school is about three hours northwest of Dallas, told “It mainly entails improving accuracy…You know, as educators, we don’t have to be police officers and learn about Miranda Rights and related procedures. We just have to be accurate.”
Teachers in Texas are allowed to have weapons in the classroom, as Thweatt's faculty members do, but State Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, in a statement said he will file legislation, the Protection of Texas Children Act, which would allow Texas schools to appoint a member of their faculty as a "school marshal." The marshal, with training and certification, would be able to "use lethal force upon the occurrence of an attack in the classroom or elsewhere on campus."
He isn't alone. Lawmakers in a growing number of states -- including Oklahoma, Missouri, Minnesota, South Dakota and Oregon -- have said they will consider laws allowing teachers and school administrators to carry firearms at school, The Associated Press reported.
Words need to lead to action
Last year, many Texas lawmakers supported a plan to give college students and professors with concealed handgun licenses the right to carry guns on campus, but the measure failed.
Crystal Fleming  Ph.D. Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at SUNY Stony Brook in New...
Crystal Fleming, Ph.D. Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at SUNY Stony Brook in New York
Hundreds of college presidents across the country have signed an open letter renewing their opposition to laws that would allow guns on university and college campus.
Also disagreeing that more guns would solve the problem, Dr. Crystal M. Fleming, Assistant Professor of Sociology at State University of New York at Stony Brook, told me in an interview Wednesday that we need to find "concrete ways of making change to our laws so we can strengthen regulation."
Wednesday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg echoed that sentiment and praised the task force formed by Obama to develop gun violence policy, First Coast News reported. He reiterated his call for Obama and Congress to adopt stricter enforcement of current laws as well as "sensible gun laws that limit what you can do, when you can do it."
President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that the White House would submit new “concrete proposals” on gun-control to Congress next month and pledged to “use all the powers of this office” to identify and promote new polices to address the scourge of gun violence.
“Words need to lead to action,” Obama said at the White House, where he announced that he’s putting Vice President Joe Biden in charge of developing a response to the mass shooting. “The fact that this problem is complex, can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing.”
More about Guns, Teachers Carry Guns, Gun rights, Texas, Crystal M Fleming
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