Texas Teachers Carry Guns on Hips { 20 images } Created 7 May 2018

After the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, President Trump renewed his encouragement for America’s schools to arm their teachers.

According to the Education Commission of the States, 10 states now allow staff access to firearms on school grounds, kept in lock boxes or inside vehicles, in an attempt to offer a faster response to active shooters incidents.

In Texas, schools have been quietly arming their teachers for over a decade, but instead of locking guns away, they keep them hidden under a shirt or in an ankle holster, always on their person throughout the teaching day.

FBI statistics gathered from past attacks, show that 60% of active shooter incidents end before police arrive, and 69% end within 5 minutes. Police response times in rural school districts can be up to 30 minutes, leaving staff to take methods of apprehension and prevention into their own hands.

Today over 170 rural school districts in Texas are armed, mostly operating under the Guardian Plan, which allows any staff member covered by a concealed carry handgun license to hold a firearm anywhere on a school campus, including inside the classroom.

David Thweatt, superintendent at Harrold Independent School District in north Texas, created the Guardian Plan in 2013, as a response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, but has been arming his staff since 2007.

The Guardian Plan has no federal oversight, instead school boards agree on the amount of training a guardian must undergo, the firearms they’re allowed to carry, and ammunition they can use.

Signs on school fences read “please be aware that staff are armed and may use whatever force is necessary to protect students,” as an attempt to deter potential attackers.

School superintendents are secretive about specific information. In fact the terms of the Guardian Plan require that the identities of weapon holders remain anonymous – fearing that if an active shooter knew where the weak spots in an institution were, it could provide an entry point for an attack.

Police and the FBI remain skeptical of the Guardian Plan, questioning the amount of training and psychological ability of teachers to take life, and worrying that teachers may be confused for active shooters themselves when first responders arrive.

“Most teachers are not ready to use deadly force against anybody,” said Kevin Lawrence, executive director of the Texas Municipal Police Association, “and if you're going to be armed you need to have made up your mind that you're ready to take a human life.”
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