Town Heals and Remembers

2 NRA Members Push for Armed Teachers in Arlington

School district says it's reviewing security systems, procedures but allowing concealed handguns is not under consideration

By Mola Lenghi
|  Thursday, Dec 27, 2012  |  Updated 11:48 PM CDT
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Two National Rifle Association members say they will try again to push a plan to let Arlington teachers and administrators carry concealed guns. But the school board president opposes the idea.

Mola Lenghi, NBC 5 Arlington Reporter

Two National Rifle Association members say they will try again to push a plan to let Arlington teachers and administrators carry concealed guns. But the school board president opposes the idea.

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Two National Rifle Association members say they want the Arlington school district to allow teachers and administrators to carry concealed weapons.

David McElwee and Bill Sandlin say it is as much a school safety issue as it is a Second Amendment issue.

"The right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed," Sandlin said.

"This is fundamental," said McElwee, a retired teacher who served in the U.S. military for 24 years. "Everybody has the right to self-defense."

The two longtime Arlington residents unsuccessfully advocated a similar proposal a year ago. McElwee said they will try again after the school massacre in Connecticut that left 20 children dead.

But school board president Peter Baron says he doesn't support the idea.

Baron told the told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that McElwee is "welcome to come and say his piece, as is any citizen," but doesn't expect the board to be swayed. He said the board is reviewing security in the wake of the shooting.

"We believe our campuses are safe, but we understand the importance of continuing to work to make them even safer," an Arlington school district representative told NBC 5 in an emailed statement.

According to the statement, the school board is pursuing a district-wide facilities assessment that will include a thorough review of the district's security infrastructure.

In the meantime, the Arlington Independent School District is reviewing the security systems and procedures currently in place to see if any short-term adjustments should be made. But allowing employees to carry concealed handguns is not an option they are considering, the district said.

While some argue that more guns are not the answer, McElwee and Sandlin say it's not about the guns.

"You're not throwing more guns; you're throwing qualified people into the equation," McElwee said.

The men argue that allowing licensed, qualified and willing gun-owning teachers to carry their concealed weapons on campus would have an immediate effect.

"You need [armed] people in that building," McElwee said. "How many people do you need? We don't really know; it may only be four or five or even less than that. But that's really the big advantage is that a shooter doesn't know."

A district spokeswoman said Arlington police keep officers at junior and senior high schools. But McElwee and Sandlin argue that one officer is not enough.

"There's the question of whether an officer can get to one end of the building to the other in a full gallop in a sufficient time," McElwee said.

"Cops always clean up the mess after," Sandlin. "Only somebody that's armed and willing that's there when it happens is able to take care of the situation."

Both McElwee and Sandlin stressed that their proposal is not a long-term gun control solution.

The proposal to allow teachers to carry guns isn't totally foreign in Texas. In remote Harrold, the nearest sheriff's office is 30 minutes away, so the school board voted to let teachers bring guns to school about five years ago. They must have a concealed-weapons permit, and each employee also must be approved by the board.

Texas law bans guns in schools unless the school has given written authorization. Arizona and some other states have similar laws.

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