ETX officials react to president's proposal to arm teachers

ETX officials react to president's proposal to arm teachers
KLTV File Photo

Following a deadly shooting at a Florida High School last week, some, including President Donald Trump, have proposed arming teachers with handguns.

The proposal has sparked a debate into whether or not this would do more harm than good.

Union Grove is among a few other rural East Texas school districts that have been arming select employees since 2013.

"We asked ourselves if someone came into our schools and wanted to do harm, would we want that threat stopped as quickly as possible, says Brian Gray, the Superintendent at Union Grove ISD. The answer to that is yes."

Now, President Donald Trump is among those suggesting that other districts do the same.

In Smith County, Sheriff Larry Smith isn't opposed to the idea.

"Teachers should be allowed to be armed should they want to, says Smith. You have junior colleges and four-year colleges now that allow students to be armed. What's the difference?"

Brent Chambers, the former head of the East Texas FBI branch and current Director of Campus Safety at Tyler Junior College, says legalizing concealed carry for grade school employees makes sense, within reason.

"As long as they're trained, says Chambers. I just wouldn't want someone to be handed a weapon and say now go protect my children, not knowing their background, not knowing their psychological state, not knowing their proficiency with a firearm."

At Union Grove ISD, they say that in-depth training is the first step in their process. 

"The personnel go through a strict criteria that begins with a psychological evaluation, says Gray. Its more than just the CDL license."

Chambers says as long as armed employees are abiding by the law, the chances of a handgun falling into the wrong hands should be low.

"If they're abiding by what the law says, it's concealed, says Chambers. No one is going to know they are carrying until a critical incident occurs."

Another part of Union Grove's policy requires that employees who are armed are not identified. The district says they have not had any incidents since adopting this policy in 2013.

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