To many, the idea of allowing concealed carry in schools is shocking. The concept isn’t new, however. It’s a plan various schools have had in place for some time.

For example, Harrold, Texas, has allowed school district employees, who successfully pass an in-depth psychological screening and navigate a vigorous training program, to conceal carry guns on school grounds since 2007.

“This is a logical extension of what we do already in our own homes,” explains David Thweatt Superintendent of Harrold  district schools. “The kids in our school are our children during the day and we need to protect them.”

It’s a decision Thweatt says he didn’t arrive at lightly. Long before the Harrold school board voted to allow concealed carry in schools, it implemented passive security systems including magnetic external lock doors and security cameras throughout campus. But in 2006 — following a shooting at West Nickel Mines School in Lancaster County, Penn., where 10 girls, ages six through 13, lost their lives — Thweatt realized these systems might not be enough to protect students and staff at the school, which lies 20 minutes from the nearest law enforcement agency.

“That [shooter in Lancaster County] was the milk delivery man,” he says. “We would have let him into our school. And then we would have had an active shooter.”

Later in 2006, after a gunman at Virginia Tech shot 49 people, killing 32, Thweatt took action.

“Our response plan at the time was the same as Virginia Tech,” he says of the school’s policy in the event of a gunman. “You lock the doors … and then get the kids under the desk or out of the line of fire. But that’s exactly what everyone at Virginia Tech did.”

Drawing upon the authority of the federal Gun-Free Schools Act and the Texas Penal Code, the Harrold school board granted concealed carry status to certified school employees, including custodial workers.

In Texas, school districts can grant written permission for anyone, including certain employees to carry firearms on campus. According to a spokesperson for the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), most districts limit concealed carry rights to commissioned peace officers. But in some districts, this authority has also been granted to various school employees.

“The issue of firearms on campus is a local policy decision that needs to be determined by the elected board of trustees in that community,” explains the TASB spokesperson.

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