Arkansas Tries to Arm Teachers
School shootings, which have been around for decades, have rightfully gotten much more attention since the tragedy in Newton in 2012. While the anti-gunners would fight future attacks with a series of bans and laws that are certain to only take legally owned firearms off the streets, others are working on a more pro-active solution. In Arkansas, there is a movement to put teachers in control of their own protection.
Nestled in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, where Interstate 40 and US Hwy 64 meet, is the small town of Clarksville, Arkansas. This quiet place is home to just over 9,000 residents but don't let that fool you, they are very forward looking. In 1918, the state's first female lawyer to try a case lived in this small town. The local school system, in 2011, became the first one in the state to issue each student in grades 7-12 with their very own district provided laptop. Now they are moving forward with a new idea-- by arming 20 of their teachers.
The Clarksville High School experiment
Refusing to be a victim to future school shootings, because yes, even in a rural small town like theirs, it is a possibility, the school district looked at arming teachers. The pilot program that they have been working on all summer is to have "more than 20 teachers, administrators and other school employees in this town who will carry concealed weapons throughout the school day, making use of a little-known Arkansas law that allows licensed, armed security guards on campus."
After successfully completing some 53-hours of training with live firearms, including simulated active shooter training inside the school itself, the faculty will be considered armed security guards. Participants in the program are given a one-time $1,100 stipend to purchase a handgun and holster and the district pays for ammunition, permits, and the required training. In addition to their roles as educators, these volunteers will also quietly pack some subtle insurance. So that the armed teachers will not become the 'first target' in an active shooter event, their identifies are secret.
This all sounds like a decent answer to a problem that is current and very scary. That is, if the State allows it...
Little Rock says no to program
The Arkansas state Attorney General, democrat Dustin McDaniel has put a monkey wrench into Clarksville's plan. In a decision declaring the school district's intentions illegal, he wrote, "Simply put, the code in my opinion does not authorize either licensing a school district as a guard company or classifying it as a private business authorized to employ its own teachers as armed guards."
(How the anti-gunners see the concept)
How Newton is handling the new normal
In the past eight months since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, gun purchases in Newton have doubled. This is while the town is adding School Resource Officers, both armed and unarmed, into every school. Overall, this is a crystal clear comment on how the concept of choosing good guys with guns is evolving.
According to an article over at Buckeye Firearms, an Ohio Pro-2A organization that has trained more than 150 educators in basic firearms use, at least seven states now have armed staff in school.
Perhaps Arkansas will soon make it eight.
(Photo by Oleg Volk)