Wednesday, 27 Aug, 2008 Offbeat

Teachers Allowed to Carry Guns in School


As students get ready to start their classes, the teacher in a small Texas country school, packs a gun together with their lessons. The school is located near the border with Oklahoma and is believed to be the first school to allow weapons in the classroom.

According to the school's officials, teachers with guns are the only way to protect the school, located 30 minutes from the closest police station.

"How do you stop the angry person without enough sense? It's not going to take very long for it to be a total massacre," said Superintendent David Thweatt of the Harrold Independent School District.

However, according to Doug Pennington, spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the risk of accidental shooting in the classroom is much higher than the risk that a mad man "will come in off the highway and start random shooting spree."

Pennington doubts that teachers are trained enough to be able to respond in a critical situation and the only way guns should be allowed in school is in case a security guard is hired. Thus school will have a person who is trained enough to carry a gun. But according to Thweatt, who did not reveal the names of the teachers who possess guns, the school's staff has received adequate training to be able to carry guns.

In recent years mass murders have been registered in U.S. schools, shopping malls and churches. According to the school's superintendent this violence is the result of a federal legislation enacted in 1995 that turned such areas into "gun-free zones".

It took Thweatt two years to study the issue and fill the school with over $100,000 in high-tech security systems. However, even state-of-the-art security system could not prevent mass murder in an Amish one-room school, located in Pennsylvania, in 2006, when 5 girls died. It was also not enough to save 32 people killed by a student at Virginia Tech University in 2007.

"They were like fish in a barrel," Thweatt said.

The school's policy states that guns must be worn and not locked in a safe. The guns should be loaded with ammunition that blasts into powder and not ricochets through the hallways.

According to Lee Anderson of nearby Wichita Falls, Texas, Harrold children are raised to be able to handle guns. If not defend against a mad man, then shoot a snake or a coyote who might attack them on a playground. But still that doesn't mean that guns should be allowed in the classroom, said Kristina Tirloni of the Texas Classroom Teachers Association, who called the policy "extreme".

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

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