Packing for school: Guns on campus one year later

Packing for school: Guns on campus one year later

This is a discussion on Packing for school: Guns on campus one year later within the In the News: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly forums, part of the The Back Porch category; I know I have read this before, but a couple searchs missed it here. If a dup please delete or merge as appropriate. Packing for ...

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Thread: Packing for school: Guns on campus one year later

  1. #1
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    Thumbs up Packing for school: Guns on campus one year later

    I know I have read this before, but a couple searchs missed it here. If a dup please delete or merge as appropriate.

    Packing for school: Guns on campus one year later : Front page : Abilene Reporter-News

    Packing for school: Guns on campus one year later
    Ann Work Times Record News
    Thursday, August 6, 2009

    WICHITA FALLS — One year ago, David Thweatt made a decision so controversial and groundbreaking the story about it sped around the world.

    The superintendent of the isolated Harrold Independent School District, about 30 miles northwest of here, made history last August when he and his school board decided to allow select teachers and staff members at the 110-student school to carry guns on campus — a first for Texas and the nation.

    For Thweatt and his board, the decision was pure mathematics.

    The school, which sits in the middle of a prairie, was too far from law enforcement for police to come in time to fend off would-be attackers. The students and staff would be safer if on-site, trained staff members were equipped to handle a crisis at a moment’s notice, they decided.

    Thweatt had already installed a $100,000 state-of-the-art security system in the school. Now, arming certain unnamed school staff members by allowing them to strap a firearm under their clothing was the final flourish.

    In the year since that historic decision, a gun was never brandished or fired at the school. There were no problems, Thweatt said.

    However, one week after school began, police busted a methamphetamine lab set up in an abandoned house that sat 50 feet from the school property.

    A deputy had peered inside and “saw something in the walls and windows and called for backup,” Thweatt said. “They made it to the abandoned house in 15 minutes. We had figured it would take 18 to 20 minutes in a typical situation.”

    Had that been an armed intruder at his school, response time would have been too slow.

    “We’re the first responders. We have to be,” Thweatt said. “We don’t have 5 minutes. We don’t have 10 minutes. We would have had 20 minutes of hell” if attackers had targeted the school.

    Harrold students, who grew up on ranches and in the middle of the North Texas gun culture, were unperturbed by the school district’s new gun policy.

    “The kids just laughed about it,” Thweatt said.

    Thweatt himself is the son of a retired minister/missionary/teacher in Abilene and a 1978 graduate of Abilene High School and Hardin-Simmons University.

    Too small for athletics, Thweatt spent his time at Abilene High focused on his studies, particularly interested in journalism.

    He wrote music and played guitar in a Christian band on weekends and was active in his father’s nondenominational Abilene Fellowship ministry.

    Thweatt drove a school bus for the Abilene ISD and occasionally worked as a substitute teacher to help fund his education, graduating in 1983.

    In Harrold, media attention was fierce all year. He talked to reporters from as far away as Ireland and New Zealand; he participated on more than a dozen talk shows. The story continues to spread; recently he saw a write-up in a Jerusalem newspaper. Only Finland and Switzerland reporters ignored the story; they already have high gun ownership rates, he said.

    “I had a lot of interviews from kids and college kids,” he said. “They needed to learn. I’m an educator,” said Thweatt, who is opinionated but patient in interviews.

    “Would you stick a sign at a school that says, ‘No guns on this property’? Why wouldn’t you? It invites nasty people to come,” he said. “That’s what you’ve done to every public school in the nation. That’s why there were no shootings until Columbine. It’s turned into a dad-gum shoot fest.”

    Thweatt took calls from “just a handful” of Texas districts considering the same policy, but he wouldn’t say if any other districts had modeled Harrold’s M.O.

    According to Barbara Williams with the Texas Association of School Boards, Harrold remains the only Texas school district with a guns-on-campus policy.

    “We’re not aware of any others,” she said.

    However, when Harrold made its groundbreaking decision one year ago, she watched the story go as far as Malaysia. She was even called by the Dr. Phil show, who asked her to help plan a show on the topic because they were so fascinated by it. She refused.

    To her, it was so obvious as to be a non-issue. Dr. Phil, who claims to be a Texan, should know that, she said.

    “This is Texas. I have a magnet on my refrigerator of the state with a plastic gun glued to it that says, ‘We don’t call 9-1-1.’ We find that funny in Texas,” she said.

    When a London reporter asked Thweatt to explain why so many kooks go into schools looking for a body count, Thweatt said he couldn’t explain such a devolution of society, but he did know a simple way to stop it — the same solution he chose for Harrold ISD.

    “Good guys with guns — good,” he said. “Bad guys with guns — bad.”

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  2. #2
    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    “Good guys with guns — good,” he said. “Bad guys with guns — bad.”
    He's a very bright person. It is that simple, and anything that nets an increase in the GG/good side of the equation is a good thing. It's appalling how many people can see such a thing as horrific in its conception ... more good folks being able to defend themselves immediately.
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
    Thoughts: Justifiable self defense (A.O.J.).
    Explain: How does disarming victims reduce the number of victims?
    Reason over Force: Why the Gun is Civilization (Marko Kloos).

  3. #3
    Distinguished Member Array tiwee's Avatar
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    I was on the local school board when Columbine occurred. Our schools are a mishmash of building additions. There are numerous exterior doors. Students enter and leave all of the time to pass to other classes, go to lunch, or the gyms. No way to keep control of all entrances.

    Among the faculty were several excellent firearms people and three or four that had been in the first gulf war. One of the classes all junior high students took was a two week gun safety course(as a part of an exploratory class) including shooting with BB guns at paper targets. It seemed perfectly sensible to allow faculty that volunteered and were qualified be allowed to carry or to lock a weapon in school safes. This was before concealed carry in Missouri, so the plan was to have them added to the city police auxiliary. The reaction from the superintendent was something akin to horror. I was taken aback, considering our rural location and general familiarity with guns. Before I could work the other board members, the superintendent contacted the insurance carrier and district lawyers and got an absolute no from them. I am sure he got the answer he asked for rather than getting an unbiased opinion. I was in my first year on the board and didn't feel like I had enough juice to push this issue. I did help arrange a school resource officer from the county so we had one guy packing for 1600 students and three campuses. I also, asked unwelcome questions about school safety at every opportunity.

    Eventually, the rumor got around and two members of the faculty privately encouraged me to push this issue. But I felt unwelcome by the other board members, and rather than go six against one, I resigned after one year. Today, almost ten years later, the school district still has one school resource officer and three campuses. The city has one officer on during the day that could respond within five minutes. I think it is a travesty, but my last child graduated last year, so they made it through safely. Today's parents will have to look out for themselves.

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  5. #4
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    tiwee, I understand and appreciate your dilemma as a school board member. I think you acted prudently and commend you for keeping a cool head, even if your viewpoint was ultimately ignored. The principal of your school demonstrated his chickenpoo mentality and view toward the safety of the children in his care by contacting the insurance carrier first! By his actions he basically said "I need to cover my butt" and put that ahead of his students' and faculty's safety. Gee, what a guy.

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