In the week following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where 27 people were murdered, everyone everywhere has been yakking about their opinion on guns. Some people think more people should carry guns, so they can protect everyone else from the “bad guys.” Other people — and I myself fall into this camp — say the less access to guns, the better.
The most hot-button area of focus has been on guns in schools and whether more guns in the hands of security guards, teachers or administrators will make students more safe. Heh, remember being a kid and seeing after school specials about how we should keep guns out of school?!
So I thought it would be interesting to check in with one small town in Texas that allows its teachers to carry concealed weapons.
Harrold, Texas, is a rural town in North Texas, near the Oklahoma border. The school in Harrold only has 103 students in all 12 grades, plus kindergarten, and only 50 employees. The town superintendent told Commercial Appeal, a newspaper in Memphis, that the town does not have money for a security guard. Instead, the town’s school board unanimously voted to allow teachers to carry concealed weapons. To do so, a teacher must have a concealed weapons permit and be individually approved by the school board “based on his or her personality and reaction to a crisis,” according to the paper. The superintendent would not reveal how many teachers actually do carry guns.
I’m not surprised that a school allows this, nor that the school that allows it is in Texas. I understand that Texas and other places, such as rural Pennsylvania where my brother lives and owns several guns, have a local culture more sympathetic to guns. It’s just a fact that different parts of the country have different attitudes towards firearms. I think the acceptance of teachers-packing-heat in Harrold, Texas, is because it is in Harrold, Texas. I don’t think that idea would have ever flown in one million years in the Connecticut suburb where I grew up.
I’m relieved to learn that the Harrold, TX, teachers who carry concealed weapons are vetted. Not just any old kooky teacher can carry a gun — which doesn’t mean any old kooky teacher isn’t carrying a gun, it just means he or she is not allowed to do so.
Still, the idea of allowing dangerous weapons in the hands of so many individuals sounds insane — a disaster waiting to happen. Might a teacher one day snap? Might a teacher get overzealous and shoot a student while breaking up a fight? We don’t know and I shudder to think about it. I want teachers and administrators in my nieces’ and nephew’s schools to carry guns to discourage school shooters about as much as I want New York City subway riders to carry knives to discourage pick pockets. Why? Because people are crazy and I don’t trust that they will only be used for their intended purpose.
So much of the fight about guns involves the rights in the Second Amendment. I, personally, am more interested in the concept of safety. For what it is worth, I don’t feel safer because my own brother owns so many guns. I feel less safe. I worry about him intentionally, or even accidentally, shooting someone. I worry about he and his fianceé being harmed if someone breaks into their home and gets to the guns before he or she does. I worry about him accidentally hurting himself while hunting for venison or shooting target practice. It’s not because I think he’s the next Adam Lanza — not at all — but the only purpose of guns are to be dangerous or deadly.
Guns have never, ever made me feel safe, not even when carried by police officers. You don’t know who people are. You don’t know if and when someone will snap. I don’t believe guns belong in school, ever, because it puts dangerous weapons in the hands of people who might misuse them. Why would anyone take that risk? Why would anyone take that risk around children?
Contact the author of this post at Jessica@TheFrisky.com. Follow me on Twitter.