Education group: ‘For our members, it’s the last line of defense’
A public school district in Oklahoma announced that six of its teachers are training for concealed carry permits, and more schools may soon follow suit, according to a state educators’ association.
Wilson Public Schools announced earlier this week that six of its teachers were currently in training and expected to be armed by November. The teachers will carry arms in the classroom and hallways.
“In today’s world with things that are happening, you have to do whatever you can to protect your school district and the children who come to school here … and that’s what we are doing,” Eric Smith, superintendent of Wilson Public Schools, told a local news outlet,
Smith did not respond to requests for comment.
More schools may soon follow Wilson’s lead, according to a state education group.
“I’m sure there will be more—we have a lot of rural schools in Oklahoma,” said Ginger Tinney, executive director of Professional Oklahoma Educators, or POE.
Tinney said that teachers want to protect their students.
Many schools in the state are “far out in the country and it would take a long time for law enforcement to get there. We know what happens when they don’t. Children die,” Tinney said.
A majority of the members of POE, a non-union, nonpartisan school personnel association, want teachers and administrators armed, Tinney said.
More than 30 percent of the teachers in the state belong to POE.
Tinney said that local school boards know whether teachers and administrators should be armed, adding that certain criteria should be met before arming a teacher. “The only ones who could call the shots are your local school board. Local control is paramount,” she said.
“For our members, it’s the last line of defense,” Tinney said. “Ultimately, they want to protect their students.”
A survey of POE members after the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut showed that 56 percent of teachers saying that educators should be armed if they have a concealed carry permit. The poll also showed 48.4 percent saying that they should be armed if they have passed psychological and other training.
An even higher number of teachers said administrators should be armed. In addition, 74.7 percent of school personnel said yes when asked whether schools should have armed officers on duty during school hours.
Wilson Public Schools’ decision comes after Gov. Mary Fallin (R.) signed House Bill 2014 into law in May, allowing the arming of certain school personnel and authorizing boards of education to allow participation in training.