Another local school district moves forward on plan to arm teachers

(Photo by John Carroll)
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GATESVILLE, Texas (KWTX) The Gatesville ISD is moving forward with a plan to allow some staff members and teachers to carry concealed weapons to protect students in case of an active shooter situation.

Gatesville Superintendent Eric Penrod says the school board voted 7-0 on a resolution to move forward and devise a plan.

The district held a town hall meeting Tuesday night and not many are opposed to the plan, he said.

“Those selected to carry guns would have to undergo intense training, psych evaluations and must qualify monthly on a shooting range,” Penrod said.

The Gatesville ISD has five campuses and Penrod says officials want enough employees to be carrying weapons to get to an active shooter quickly..

"We have a ratio worked out internally to where we feel we want to be anywhere in the district at any point within 1 to 2 minutes because unfortunately the time is 3 to 7 minutes is the typical time of an active shooter. So the districts perspective is if we can cut that down in half then we'll probably save a few lives."

Penrod who has been leading the district for five years says it's a sad topic, but one that still must be addressed.

"We live in a different world and it's sad, it gets me choked up because I have three kids that go here and if it doesn't make your skin crawl a little bit then somethings wrong."

"Our first approach has been to focus on the mental health side of the school shooting issues. Identifying the at-risk students and training the whole student body on Tuesday mornings has been a plus,” he said.

The superintendent says it's going to be several months and "most likely next year," before the plan will be implemented.

While schools remain gun free zones under federal and state law, there are exceptions in Texas that allow employees to carry firearms on school property.

Under the School Marshal Plan, designated staffers may be armed and given law enforcement capabilities and responsibilities.

Under the so-called Guardian Plan, qualified teachers and staff members may be allowed to carry concealed weapons voluntarily and anonymously on campus.

More than 200 of the state’s more than 1,000 school districts, including almost 20 in Central Texas, have adopted policies allowing staff members to carry weapons, according to figures from the Texas Association of School Boards.