Warning: this story contains dangerous levels of irony.
In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, a number of prominent Texas politicians suggested arming teachers , and some schools were quick to begin offering gun safety courses so that educators could qualify for concealed handgun licenses. Unfortunately, at one such school in Northeast Texas, the program literally backfired. Yesterday, an employee at Van Independent School District was accidentally shot during a training session.
The school district issued this statement:
At the conclusion of the CHL training on February 27, 2013, one certified person stayed for private instruction with the instructor and had a mechanical malfunction with his weapon. With the assistance of the instructor, the malfunction was addressed, but the gun misfired and the bullet ricocheted coming back to strike the VISD employee in the left leg. The VISD employee was attended to at the scene and transferred to Tyler for further treatment. The injury is not life threatening or disabling.
After speaking to teachers and members of his family, KLTV identified the gunshot trainee as Glenn Geddie, a maintenance employee of Van ISD. The station confirmed that he was in fair condition at the East Texas Medical Center in Tyler.
Although unfortunate, the incident will probably not deter the program from proceeding. Leslie Goode, a Van ISD school board member, told the Tyler Morning Telegraph that he still approves of board's decision to arm teachers despite the accident. The board approved the plan in January. In a statement (PDF) announcing the new policy, the board said it would "authorize specific school employees and other persons to possess certain firearms on school property" in order to "ensure that our children are educated in an environment that is safe."
School administrators viewed the program as a necessity after the rash of high-profile mass shootings in the past year. In a statement to KLTV in January, Van ISD Superintendent Don Dunn spoke as though his district were under an immediate threat. "We are going to go above and beyond on all-out training," said Dunn. "We're going to start training immediately. It will be every employee who is approved to carry."
Van is not the first Texas town to allow its teachers to carry in class. Harrold ISD in North Texas instituted its "Guardian Plan" in 2008, although CHL courses are not provided by the school district. Westwood ISD, Cayuga ISD and Union Grove ISD have also adopted similar programs, wrote Kenneth Dean for the Tyler Morning Telegraph.
In December, Governor Rick Perry said teachers with concealed handgun licenses should be able to carry guns to class. In January, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhust proposed a statewide training program that would provide specialized firearms training for teachers and school administrators. Although perhaps well-meaning, one must ask, should we be training teachers to teach or to fight crime?