At least two Texas school districts have adopted policies in recent weeks allowing some staff members to carry concealed firearms onto campus—and it may be a sign of things to come in other locales.
The 2,300-student Van Independent School District—which is about 40 miles southeast of Dallas—and the 750-student Union Grove district, in East Texas, adopted the policies in response to the Dec. 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Conn., in which 20 1st graders and six employees were slain in a matter of minutes.
They join at least two much smaller, rural Texas districts that are situated relatively far from first responders in adopting such policies. State law allows people with concealed-handgun permits to enter school property with the permission of the local school board. The Texas Association of School Boards said it has received hundreds of inquiries about the option since the Newtown massacre.
During a legislative hearing Jan. 28, the superintendent of the Van district said that although his district’s five campuses are within two miles of the Van police department, it could take five minutes for police to respond were a shooter to open fire on any one of those sites.
“We are completely defenseless during that five-minute gap. At least we have a chance to protect our kids,” Superintendent Don Dunn said, according to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. “We are not the police. We are not asking [staff members] to be the police. We are asking them to fill that gap until the police get there.”
In Union Grove, Superintendent Brian Gray told the Abilene Reporter-News that the district has not decided who will be trained to carry weapons on campus or whether the district will supply the guns.
“We wanted it, our community supported it,” he told the newspaper. “It’s a local decision.”
A version of this article appeared in the February 06, 2013 edition of Education Week as Two More Texas Districts Allow Some Staff to Conceal Weapons