The Texas response to the threat of school shootings


Why does Texas lead the way when it comes to arming high schools? In part, this is due to the initiative of David Thweatt, a superintendent at Harrold independent school district (the US equivalent of a school catchment area) in north Texas, who has been arming his staff since 2007. In 2013, in response to the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in Connecticut, in which 26 people died, Thweatt stepped up campaigning for the adoption of his Guardian Plan. This plan allows individual school boards to agree the firearms and ammunition that a nominated “guardian” can carry, and the amount of training he or she must undergo. The scheme requires no federal oversight; the only rules are that guardians must have a valid licence-to-carry gun permit and do their best to remain anonymous.
We decided to do an extra security audit of all the campuses and started talking about armed staff. This led to a big community forum in the high school auditorium, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. There weren’t people who were against it. There are more than 300 employees at Argyle and the only people who know which individuals are carrying guns are members of the board.

Some of the things that cause shootings are rejection – either from the institution or by other students – bullying and traumatic events. Working towards an inclusive culture and trying to prevent bullying doesn’t mean we are able to prevent it from going on, but we make a big effort, by being aware of who is angry, upset or depressed.
Guardians are a temporary solution until law enforcement arrives. We have protocols in place – if one campus is being attacked, the other campuses are looking at it on the cameras and notifying us. Confidentiality [about the identity of guardians] is paramount. You don’t want to know who that person is, because it needs to be a surprise.
Do I like being in a situation where we have to even consider being guardians of our kids, that the world has come to this? Absolutely not. It’s a disgrace that humanity is at this level. But I also know that I am going to treat these kids like they are my own. And that means we are going to protect them like they are our own. I have not heard a negative thing from parents, whatsoever.
These are excerpts from interviews with school officials or law enforcement about how they are dealing with the threat posed by school shootings.  It should be noted that the Santa Fe School system had two armed guards and they managed to stop the shooting in about four minutes.  One of the officers was seriously wounded in the confrontation but they responded bravely to the threat unlike the situation at Parkland in Florida.

I do like the sign posted at Argyle.


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