We had an interesting conversation earlier this evening with David Thweatt, schools superintendent in the small town of Harrold, about 150 miles northwest of Fort Worth.
His one-campus district in 2008 approved a policy that allows some teachers and staff with concealed carry licenses to be secretly armed while at school.
He said this definitely hedges against mass shootings like the one Friday morning at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
But, like most newspaper articles, we had more info than our available space, so we'll share it here.
For example, Thweatt said the so-called "guardian plan" is patterned after the Federal Air Marshal program, in which plain-clothes officers guard airline flights, but passengers are not supposed to know who they are, or that they’re armed.
Likewise, the school district in Harrold does not announce which teachers are "packing."
The program is set up under the same Texas laws that allow school districts to have uniformed police officers on campus, Thweatt said.
Participating teachers, however, must be approved by the school board to conceal weapons on school grounds.
There is also extra training to ensure accurate shooting.
Participants are required to use ammunition that will stop a human but not penetrate walls, Thweatt said.
These measures, he noted, are intended to limit collateral damage.
Still, the strategy draws criticism.
A common challenge, Thweatt said, is the possibility of an angry student, in a fit of passion, wrestling a concealed handgun away from a teacher.
But that’s not an issue, Thweatt said, as long as students don’t know which teachers have guns.
There has not been an incident, and Thweatt doesn’t expect one. In his opinion, declaring a campus "gun-free" is inviting a mass shooting.
"What we know about these people is they know where to go to get a bigger body count," Thweatt said. "I think they’re mostly after infamy and it’s just evil."
-- Bill Miller