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Would Arming Teachers Work In Oklahoma?

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© The staff on the Guardian Plan are required to carry their gun concealed every day and their identities are a secret. © The staff on the Guardian Plan are required to carry their gun concealed every day and their identities are a secret.
OKLAHOMA -

School shootings across the country have districts in Oklahoma looking at ways to improve safety while our children are in the classroom.

Just south of the Red River, a Texas district believes it has the answer, arming teachers in school. Just like any other school, students in Harrold, Texas read, write and learn. There's something else we won't find in any school in Oklahoma.

Harrold, Texas Superintendent David Thweatt made an unprecedented move six years ago, allowing teachers and staff to carry concealed guns. It's called the Guardian Plan.

"I want the fighters," Thweatt said. "I want the people who are going to protect others and will protect others with their life."

With a busy highway running just a few hundred yards away and train tracks as well, there's a real concern about a stranger who just might show up out of nowhere and be determined to get into the school.

"If he were coming through the front, he's not going to make it probably into the school," said Thweatt. "If he does, he's going to be met with some resistance."

Harrold students tell me they feel safer, especially since the closest first responders are 20 minutes away.

Madison Templeton said, "Someone would have the whole school shot up by then."

"I know someone's there to protect me instead of having to wait for someone else to come," Addee Thweatt said.

While a stranger with wrong intentions will be greeted with a gun, it's a whole other story for students. They tell me they've never seen a gun at school. The staff on the Guardian Plan are required to carry their gun concealed every day and their identities are a secret.

Superintendent Thweatt said, "The surprise aspect of the plan is what makes it effective."

Not everyone in Oklahoma agrees with Harrold's guns on campus policy, like retired Putnam City Elementary School Principal Karen Fisher.

"I would feel very uncomfortable with a gun in an elementary school," said Fisher. "There's too many scenarios that could go wrong, having a gun inside the school. One would be to accidentally shoot, kill or injure a child or an employee or an innocent bystander."

Parents in Harrold see it differently.

2/18/2014 Related Story: Arkansas Schools Allowing Teachers To Pack Heat

"Who else would be better to have a gun than our teachers, because their number one priority is the children," said parent Kenya Templeton. "They're not going to put those children in harm's way, and they're not going to let anybody hurt those children."

A lot of times we hear, the teachers have enough to do. The last thing they need to be thinking about is carrying a gun and fighting off intruders.

"My response to that is teachers have everything to do," said Thweatt. "Basically, if a parent has to do it, a teacher has to do it."

Would arming teachers work in Oklahoma City? David Thweatt said yes.

"Schools can only get so large," said Thweatt. "Your big schools are what 5000 students. That's still a pretty small community. You've got to have something to protect."

Protecting precious lives by packing heat.

"You're going to go on the intercom and say there's a shooter in the school. Is that going to traumatize your kid? Yeah!" said Thweatt. "It won't be as much trauma as saying, 'Hey, there's a shooter in the school and you're probably going to die.' They want to hear, 'There's a shooter in the school. We're going to do everything we can to protect you, and he's probably going to go home in a body bag and you're going to go home alive."

Harrold schools was the first in the nation with armed staff. Now about 70 districts in Texas and at least 18 states allow it. Oklahoma did pass a law in 2013 that does allow handguns on private school property.

Oklahoma Bills introduced this session involving weapons on school property:

SB 1753: Possession of firearms on school property; deleting certain provision allowing handguns to be carried on school property under certain circumstances.

HB 2329: Would make the law for elementary and secondary schools consistent with college universities and technical institutes for those with their SDA (Self Defense Act) license.

HB 2887: Would allow college and vocational school campuses to ban licensed handguns only if the institution involved could show "the licensee has previously been involved in a violent incident or an act on school property that showed deliberate or reckless disregard for the health or safety of faculty or other students."

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