170 school districts in Texas allow teachers to be armed, CNN reports

Tehreem Shahab

After the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, the nation and President Donald Trump have discussed the possibility of arming teachers.

Callisburg Independent School District, situated near Gainesville, Texas, is one of 172 school districts in Texas with a program allowing teachers to be armed, according to a report from CNN.

As part of the “Guardian Plan,” implemented four years ago after the Sandy Hook shooting, voluntary staff members are allowed to carry concealed firearms in the school building. These individuals also go through annual training by learning basic gun safety and simulating active shooter scenarios with a professional. Although there are federal and state laws that consider public schools as “gun-free zones,” the school district is able to change its policies to allow concealed carry of firearms, said Steve Clugston, Callisburg ISD.

Clugston said the “Guardian Plan” is the most efficient solution to prepare the school in an event of a shooting.

“We were trying to figure out ways to mitigate the risk that exists from something like an active shooter and the best way to be prepared in such an event,” Clugston said. “After studying any option we could think of, we felt this was the best way for us to mitigate those factors.”

UT’s educational psychology professor Christopher McCarthy conducts research focusing on the factors that promote occupational health of educators. McCarthy said arming teachers in public schools and the policy of concealed carry, such as the one implemented at UT, are similar issues.  

“Bringing (firearms) into the classroom — while people have a right under the constitution to carry firearms — we have clearly set aside spaces where that doesn’t seem to be in the public interest and I strongly believe an educational setting is one example,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy said allowing firearms in the classroom would contribute to the existing stress teachers face.

“Teachers already feel incredibly overburdened in many cases by the things we ask them to do,” McCarthy said. “This would be another source of adding another complex thing of firearms in the classroom — it is hard to imagine how that wouldn’t make things overburdened for teachers.”

In August 2016, concealed carry was implemented and received outrage on campus before and after it passed. Plan II and journalism senior Hannah Kelly said arming teachers would do more harm than good, even though she understands the idea behind arming teachers is to allow them to defend their classrooms from shooters.

“Adding a second weapon to the equation creates more opportunity for a misfire or the gun falling into the wrong hands or being used by the perpetrator,” Kelly said.

Although she knows concealed handgun license owners, such as her brother, can be responsible, Kelly said she is still uncertain about handguns being allowed in an educational setting.

“I understand that (my brother) handles guns all the time … I know that he is competent,” Kelly said. “But I also worry that any ‘good guy’ who stands up and pulls out their concealed handgun then becomes the target and becomes responsible for aiming very accurately in a situation of extreme stress … whether that’s on the UT campus or an elementary school classroom.”