Monday, August 18, 2008

Texas school to allow armed teachers

A small Texas school district shows some common sense in the school security debate:
HARROLD, Texas — A tiny Texas school district may be the first in the nation to allow teachers and staff to pack guns for protection when classes begin later this month, a newspaper reported.

Trustees at the Harrold Independent School District approved a district policy change last October so employees can carry concealed firearms to deter and protect against school shootings, provided the gun-toting teachers follow certain requirements.

In order for teachers and staff to carry a pistol, they must have a Texas license to carry a concealed handgun; must be authorized to carry by the district; must receive training in crisis management and hostile situations and have to use ammunition that is designed to minimize the risk of ricochet in school halls.

Superintendent David Thweatt said the small community is a 30-minute drive from the sheriff's office, leaving students and teachers without protection. He said the district's lone campus sits 500 feet from heavily trafficked U.S. 287, which could make it a target.

"When the federal government started making schools gun-free zones, that's when all of these shootings started. Why would you put it out there that a group of people can't defend themselves? That's like saying 'sic 'em' to a dog," Thweatt said in Friday's online edition of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Article here. Hopefully, we'll start to see more school districts adopt sensible policies like this. I suspect small, rural districts are the best initial candidates for this, although in some states the laws will need to be changed before the school districts can make the choice to allow armed teachers. Of course, there is no good reason to prohibit law-abiding citizens from carrying on school campuses either. Baby steps, baby steps.

According to this article, the teachers will be required to carry frangible ammo:
Only frangible ammunition, i.e., ammunition designed to have reduced ricochet hazard, will be permitted in firearms authorized to be on school property.

To the uninformed, the use of frangible ammo might seem like a sensible idea. Note, however, that such ammo is typically designed for use in training environments where shooters are shooting at steel targets at relatively close ranges. In such environments, frangible ammo does reduce the risk of ricochet injuries.

For defensive use, however, frangible ammo may not be the best choice. While reducing ricochets, frangible ammo may increase the risk of overpenetration, as the frangible bullets have no problem punching through soft targets, like people, and thus posing a potentially lethal risk to those behind the intended target. In contrast, expanding ammo such as hollowpoints are designed to expand and expend their energy in the human target, reducing the risk of overpenetration.

In addition, frangible ammo often uses "green" primers that are less reliable than traditional primers, and the frangible bullets are typically lighter in weight than similar non-frangible rounds. These lighter weight frangible bullets may not cycle autoloading pistols as reliably as the heavier traditional rounds for which those pistols were designed.

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