Texas town lets teachers carry concealed guns




Posted on December 20, 2012 at 12:24 PM

HARROLD, Texas — For more than a century, Harrold has barely been a stop between Wichita Falls and Amarillo.

But this little town 135 miles northwest of Fort Worth is now getting a lot of attention.

“Is there a safer school district, do you think?” News 8 asked Principal Craig Templeton.

“Well that’s hard to say,” he replied. “I can be kind of biased. I would think we are the safest.”

The Harrold Independent School District has 103 children in its one school.

There are already cameras on campus and even magnetic door locks.

But after the Virginia Tech massacre, Harrold’s Superintendent, David Thweatt, decided to do more.

“I could imagine those horrible events,” he explained. “I hoped they didn’t happen. I planned for them happening.”

Five years ago, Thweatt convinced his school board to do something unprecedented and give teachers permission to carry concealed guns in class.

“I want to know at the end of the day I did everything possible — legally and otherwise — to stop kids from being killed in cold blood, and I think we have,” he said.

Harrold is rural and isolated. It’s almost a half-hour from the nearest sheriff’s office in Vernon.

The superintendent wouldn’t reveal how many teachers carry weapons in the classroom so a potential shooter will not know. But he did say all of them must have a Concealed Handgun License, get the approval of the school board, and undergo additional training for accuracy.

“Their accuracy is probably going to be 100 percent,” Thweatt said. “The only people who have more shooting training in the State of Texas than my teachers are Highway Patrol.”

Thweatt said schools are targeted because they’re unprotected, and he insists teachers have a right to defend their classrooms.

Templeton told News 8 that armed faculty likely could have prevented the carnage in Connecticut last Friday.

Thweatt said other districts now want to follow Harrold's lead. “I’m getting calls from school leaders all over the country — especially all over the state,” he said.

Texas law lets teachers carry arms in class only if a district approves it.

On Monday, Gov. Rick Perry said that decision should remain on the local level.

On Tuesday, an incoming state legislator from Dallas proposed to take Harrold’s idea statewide.

But arming teachers is a deterrent never deployed in a large district, and Thweatt hopes it never gets tested in his small town.

E-mail: jwhitely@wfaa.com