Guns: The New Teacher’s Pets

September 16th, 2008 by Kathy McManus

Should teachers be allowed to carry concealed weapons?

Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project

At the only school in the small farm town of Harrold, Texas, it’s not teacher’s pet that has everyone talking. 

It’s teacher’s pistol. 

In an effort to deter a Columbine-like school massacre, the local school board recently decreed that teachers could carry concealed weapons at school and in the classrooms, the first school in the U.S. to do so. 

“Country people are take-care-of-yourself-people,” explained school superintendent David Thweatt. “They’re not under the illusion that the police are there to protect them.” 

The nearest police are based 17 miles away. Lacking funds to hire security guards, the school board decided that letting teachers carry guns would result in better security anyway, since an attacker wouldn’t know who might shoot him. 

Harrold’s school—which houses about one hundred students from kindergarten to high school—has a card-swipe security entry system as well as screening for visitors. But Mr. Thweatt, who calls himself as “a contingency planner,” says gun-free schools are simply targets for attack. “That’s like saying sic ’em to a dog,” he said. 

The armed teachers have received mandatory firearms training and will use special bullets designed to reduce ricocheting--in this case, off chalk boards and desks. 

Though “Don’t Mess With Texas” has long been a state mantra, making gun-toting teachers responsible for school security has some critics up in arms. “They are not trained to make life and death decisions,” said one Harrold resident. “There are too many things that could happen.” 

“It’s a disaster waiting to happen,” said a Houston teacher’s association official. “It’s up there with the worst ideas in the history of education.” 

Tell us what you think: Should teachers be responsible for providing school security by carrying guns? Schools are expected to protect their students, but where does a teacher’s responsibility end?