The recent talk about allowing teachers and school administrators to carry guns into schools isn’t a new discussion. On August 15, 2008, a small Texas school made history when they decided they weren’t going to take any chances. The Harrold Independent School District voted unanimously to allow teachers to bring guns into the classroom. Located 150 miles northwest of Fort Wort, Harrold is a district with approximately 110 students.
Reuters reported that the Harrold Independent School District appeared to be the first school district in the United States to allow teachers to carry guns into the school, and Barbara Williams with the Texas Association of School Boards confirmed that at that time, Harrold is the only school in Texas with a guns-on-campus policy. Thweat says that he knows of other districts that have similar policies, though he declined to say which ones. Texas law disallows firearms on school campuses “unless pursuant to the written regulations or written authorization of the institution.”
Not only did the board unanimously approve of the plan, but the parents have not objected, said Superintendent David Thweatt.
In an interview with FoxNews, Thweatt said it’s a matter of safety. The school sits in the middle of a prairie and is too far from law enforcement if an incident needed emergency services. Officers estimate that it takes 18-20 minutes in a typical situation for them to reach the school. The school board determined that having trained staff on-site was the best solution to have the school equipped to handle a crisis.
“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?” he said. “It’s just common sense,” Thweatt said.
He continued with:
“We have had employees assaulted before by people in the last several years,” Thweatt said. “I think that safety is big concern. We are seeing a lot of anger in society.”
Since the Harrold Independent School District decision, the increase of school shootings has caused many school officials to allow teachers and staff to carry legally concealed weapons in the classroom. In 1995, the U.S. Congress banned guns at all schools in the United States, but the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the law, adding that states and communities are free to adopt their own laws. The issue arose again in 2008 in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller when the court voted 5-4 to strike down DC’s handgun ownership ban.
In order for teachers and staff to carry a pistol at Harrold Independent School District, they must have a Texas license to carry a concealed handgun, be authorized to carry by the district, receive training in crisis management and hostile situations, and must use ammunition that is designed to minimize the risk of ricochet in school halls. Unnamed school staff members are armed and wear a firearm under their clothing.
Harrold children and staff are unperturbed by the guns-on-campus policy. They’ve grown up in the Texas gun culture. When a London reporter asked Thweatt his opinion on school shootings, Thweatt couldn’t explain why our society has become so violent, but said he knew how to help prevent violence in his school:
“Good guys with guns — good,” he said. “Bad guys with guns — bad.”