Once district officials have decided to allow concealed carry in schools, they should develop detailed policies that outline specifics of what is allowed and what’s not.

“While state and federal law gives school district boards discretion to authorize the possession of firearms and other weapons on school premises, granting such authority brings a host of practical concerns including safety, liability and insurance,” says a Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) spokesperson. “School districts considering expanding the authority of employees to bring weapons on campus should discuss the decision with their school attorney and insurance provider.”

David Thweatt, Superintendent of Harrold, Texas, district schools agrees, noting that district officials worked out a solid policy for concealed carry in schools long before any one of its 25 employees brought a gun onto school grounds. That policy has three primary components:

• Eligibility. Only those employees who have obtained and maintain a current license, in accordance with state law, to carry a concealed firearm are eligible to possess a firearm on school property.

• Training. Any school employee authorized to possess a firearm on school property must undergo additional training in crisis intervention, management of hostage situations, and any other training the school board designates as appropriate.

• Ammunition. Only frangible ammunition, i.e. ammunition designed to have reduced ricochet hazard, is permitted in firearms on school property.

Eligibility goes beyond the basic requirements listed above, however, says Thweatt. The school board must individually approve any person seeking permission to concealed carry in school. These individuals also must pass intensive psychological scrutiny, and they must be trustworthy, have quick decision-making skills and keep a cool head in a crisis.

“We look for an individual who is stable and handle crisis well,” he explains. “We want people who will run in the direction of gun fire as opposed to from it.”

Once approved, these individuals must pass intensive training that includes tactical training, which has them firing under stress with obstacles present. Though they may qualify on their firearm just once a year, much like a law enforcement official, these employees must train on their weapons regularly.

“They need to be accurate and they need to make sure their target is clear before they shoot,” Thweatt says. “And these skills need to be second nature.”

Finally, and probably the most important lesson of all, these individuals are taught that they may only fire their weapon if they believe their life, or that of the student, is in danger.

The policy at Montpelier (Ohio) Exempted Village Schools has similar attributes. Superintendent Jamie Grime screens each employee and makes a preliminary assessment as to whether he or she should be allowed to concealed carry in school. From there, his recommendation goes before the school board, which has final approval on these decisions.

“We are looking for people with a general background and knowledge about firearms, and individuals who are comfortable carrying them,” he says. “This isn’t for everyone, and we are not making everyone participate. Some employees have never touched a firearm and they wouldn’t want to. To ask them to wouldn’t be in anyone’s best interest.”

Like the policies in place at Harrold schools, the Montpelier policy also outlines a heavy emphasis on training.

“On top of getting a concealed carry license, which is a 12-hour course in Ohio, we require a minimum of 50 hours of tactical training before someone can carry a concealed firearm in a school,” Grime says. “I think when situations like this happen, it’s all about the training.”

In the months to come, Ohio will roll out three two-day courses, created by Ohio’s Tactical Defense Institute, that cover techniques such as how to take cover, hitting a moving target, close quarter combat, moving down a hallway when someone is shooting, rounding corners safely, entering a classroom, and so on. Authorized employees will train with their firearm bimonthly after passing these courses.

Both school districts cover the costs of training and ammunition, and Harrold reimburses employees for the weapon they use in training. Though there is a cost associated with that, Thweatt says the district actually comes out ahead.

“A security guard’s salary costs about $30,000 a year,” he says. “But we can train 15 to 20 people for that same amount, except it’s a one-time cost. And once they are trained, we have redundant coverage across the school.”

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