The New York Times has a major feature today on the successful effort by the Clarksville School District to arm staff members — 16 of them, including a kindergarten teacher.
The article is a takeoff for a look at other states and the movement by some to put more guns on campus in light of school shootings. Some states have long allowed guns on campus in staffers’ locked cars. At least three states allow anyone with a concealed carry permit to carry it on school grounds because it’s not otherwise prohibited. Kansas and Tennessee are arming up. And, of course, Texas, but even Texas isn’t putting the guns in classrooms in the pockets, bras and leg holsters of staff.
The most sweeping new law is in Texas, where the Protection of Texas Children Act went into effect on Sept. 1. Teachers who want to serve as armed school marshals must have a license to carry a concealed weapon, pass a mental health evaluation and be trained specifically to respond when someone with a gun is inside a school shooting students.
The program is still being developed, and unlike the Arkansas effort, teachers would have to keep the guns under lock and key and only one school marshal would be allowed for each 400 students.
Generally, the theme is increasing interest in guns on campus. But critics are quoted:
“The idea that a single relatively untrained teacher is going to bring this person who is heavily armed down is a stretch,” said Mark Glaze, the director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. “The idea is to keep the guns from the hands of the shooter.”
Those who have spent their lives in the classroom have similar concerns.
“No teacher that I know of could ever receive enough training,” said Steve Gunter, a retired history teacher in Bentonville, Ark.
“If I had a gun in my room with some of these students where I taught? They’d get it from me and shoot me,” he said. “They’d say, ‘Mr. Gunter, you gave me an F? Here’s your F.’ ”