Keene Independent School District Votes to Give Its Teachers Guns

KEENE, TX — In a 6 to 1 vote Wednesday night, December 16, the Keene Independent School District (KISD) Board of Trustees took an action intended to keep its Johnson County, Texas schools safe from gun violence like the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. The board approved a so-called "Guardian Program" that will allow faculty members in district schools to carry guns on campus. KISD includes an elementary, a middle school, a high school and an alternative learning institute.

Keene's district recently lost its school resource officer (a sworn law enforcement officer responsible for security and crime prevention within school systems), and hired Tim Kosar in September to serve as the district's Police Chief. According to Dan E. Roberts, who serves on the KISD board, Mr. Kosar floated the idea of arming teachers after coming on board with the district.

Mr. Roberts, who is the General Manager of the Chaf-In Restaurant in neighboring Cleburne, Texas, was the lone dissenting vote Wednesday. I spoke with him by phone about the decision to arm teachers and why he opposed the measure.

"I’m against having the guns on campus," he said. "I have no problem with people having guns, but I don’t personally use one."

The issue, he said, is that those who have committed acts of violence on campuses are almost always related in some way to the campus. The Sandy Hook Elementary shooter had attended that school for a brief time, for instance, and the shooter in the recent San Bernardino shooting was a co-worker of those he killed. Roberts said arming teachers would create the potential for teachers having to make decisions to kill people they know, possibly their students.

"My concern is for the wellbeing of the teacher," he said, and noted that "many parents and older educators" opposed the measure as well.

A graduate of Southwestern Adventist University and former mayor of Keene, Mr. Roberts said that during his time as mayor "forty or forty-five years ago," he considered taking guns out of the hands of police officers. Mr. Roberts supports the use of tazers as an alternative to guns in KISD schools. "The more guns you have, the more potential for problems you have," Roberts said.

Noting his Adventist education from first grade through college, Mr. Roberts said, "It's hard, being reared a conscientious objector, to change the mindset."

ADVENTIST SCHOOLS IN KEENE

The City of Keene, located south of the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex, is also home to a sizable Seventh-day Adventist community, including Keene Adventist Elementary, Chisholm Trail Academy, and Southwestern Adventist University. 

I spoke with Chisholm Trail Academy Principal Tommy Simons, who said that the KISD decision has no immidiate implications for Keene's Adventist schools. 

"For us in this little community of Keene, if the public school system does something, people sometimes feel it’s in the best interest for parochial schools to do it too," he said, but noted that Chisolm Trail answers to its own board and to the Texas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Mr. Simons said that the Texas Conference had a discussion about arming individuals on Adventist campuses about a year ago, but the conference has not asked schools to consider arming teachers.

Simons said that he feels caught in the middle of the debate. While he is not personally opposed, he said he has no intention of pushing the issue of guns on Adventist campuses.

"Though Keene is this tiny hole-in-the-wall town, you can’t ignore what’s happening," he said, referencing the spate of mass shootings that continues unabated in the United States. Mr. Simons is not anxious to have his teachers "packing heat," he told me. "I know there’s a couple people here that wouldn’t have a problem doing it, but I wouldn’t want to mandate it." 

On the campus of Southwestern Adventist University, students are not allowed to have weapons in their possession. The 2015-2016 Student Handbook states, "The possession and use of firearms, guns (including air soft, BB, paintball, pellet, etc.) and other forms of weapons (knives, bows and arrows, numchucks, etc.) by students on university property is prohibited."

Darcy Force, Southwestern's Director for Marketing and Public Relations, confirmed that the university has no plans to begin allowing guns on campus, or to arm faculty members there. This despite a statewide bill set to take effect in 2016 that would allow students and faculty members on Texas university campuses to carry concealed weapons. Private institutions may opt out of the so-called "Campus-Carry" bill, and Southwestern will be among the schools that continue to disallow weapons on campus.

The Niche.com website ranks Southwestern Adventist University third safest campus out of 63 Texas colleges and universities. The website's rankings factor in student surveys on safety, campus crime rates, Freshman retention and graduation rates, local crime grades, and alcohol and drug-related arrests. In Niche's survey, the City of Keene received a "B" rating for crime, "A" being the highest possible.

After Wedenesday's vote, KISD will begin taking steps to arm teachers. According to Dan Roberts, the district's first step will be to talk to an insurance liability carrier. Next, those designated to carry arms will undergo medical, physical and psychological exams prior to being trained for handling weapons. KISD Police Chief Kosar says that they will undergo a minimum of 80 hours of training a year.

 

Jared Wright is Managing Editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.

If you respond to this article, please:

Make sure your comments are germane to the topic; be concise in your reply; demonstrate respect for people and ideas whether you agree or disagree with them; and limit yourself to one comment per article, unless the author of the article directly engages you in further conversation. Comments that meet these criteria are welcome on the Spectrum Website. Comments that fail to meet these criteria will be removed.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7242

Only in America…

No way i’d send my kids to a school where the teachers were packin’ a glock.

3 Likes

Well, I guess if we have lost our faith in God’s ability to protect students on our campuses, we better get armed. How have we reached this sad juncture?

Even sadder is the fact that there is no evidence that arming teachers would have any effect on a shooting situation. Even highly trained police officers find it difficult to stop a shooter who is well prepared, so how are minimally trained people with concealed carry permits supposed to make a difference. And then there is the well-documented risk that more guns means more gun accidents. This whole thing is so fear driven.

If I were a parent I would not send my child to a school where the teachers were armed. Having guns so pervasively around is a greater risk than the off chance that a shooter will show up.

I find people that use the Bible as a pretense for arming to be scary. Jesus repeatedly preached a message of nonviolence. To assume that violence is the only solution to violence is to show a lack of creativity, if not a lack of faith in God’s ability to protect us if He sees fit to do so.

As do I. The biggest reason not to arm is that it is ineffective, not to ignore the fact that violent self-defense should have no place in a Christian’s arsenal.

4 Likes

These shooters attack places where guns are banned. If a potential shooter knows he might meet armed resistance he or she might not attack in the first place.

6 Likes

Unless the teacher is trained in the proper use and carry of a weapon, It is very fool hardy to allow an untrained person to be armed. in high school a teacher could be over powered by a student. The better answer is a metal detector and an armed guard. tom Z

3 Likes

Well, since the government schools don’t want God on school grounds, they are forced to fend for themselves. I’m assuming (and hoping) that SDA schools will not follow the lead of the government schools.

2 Likes

Unfortunately this will propagate the lie that violence can be solved with more violence. The very act of carrying a gun is one of power and domination over others, such a privelage should be reserved for those who have undergone significant training and only in the role of defending and protectin such as law enforcement officers, and not teachers who can not afford to place themselves in a position of such power and intimidation over those that they teach.
Do they not think that a gunman will not simply get a bigger gun? I believe it will take a radical rethink of the American attitude towards violence and guns before things get better. As a teacher I understand that students often learn more from the unspoken lessons that they see at school. The attitude towards guns and violence demonstrated at this school is not the lesson we should be teaching our students, I could neither work at nor send my students to such a school.

2 Likes

I find the anti gun rhetoric based on Christian overtones to be disingenuous.
At least to the extent that they know their bibles.

Was Israel armed? Why?
Judges 20 Then all the children of Israel went out, and the congregation was gathered together as one man, from Dan even to Beersheba, with the land of Gilead, unto the Lord in Mizpeh.

2 And the chief of all the people, even of all the tribes of Israel, presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God, four hundred thousand footmen that drew sword.
3 (Now the children of Benjamin heard that the children of Israel were gone up to Mizpeh.) Then said the children of Israel, Tell us, how was this wickedness?
4 And the Levite, the husband of the woman that was slain, answered and said, I came into Gibeah that belongeth to Benjamin, I and my concubine, to lodge.
5 And the men of Gibeah rose against me, and beset the house round about upon me by night, and thought to have slain me: and my concubine have they forced, that she is dead.
6 And I took my concubine, and cut her in pieces, and sent her throughout all the country of the inheritance of Israel: for they have committed lewdness and folly in Israel.
7 Behold, ye are all children of Israel; give here your advice and counsel.
8 And all the people arose as one man, saying, We will not any of us go to his tent, neither will we any of us turn into his house.
9 But now this shall be the thing which we will do to Gibeah; we will go up by lot against it;
10 And we will take ten men of an hundred throughout all the tribes of Israel, and an hundred of a thousand, and a thousand out of ten thousand, to fetch victual for the people, that they may do, when they come to Gibeah of Benjamin, according to all the folly that they have wrought in Israel.
11 So all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, knit together as one man.
12 And the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, What wickedness is this that is done among you?
13 Now therefore deliver us the men, the children of Belial, which are in Gibeah, that we may put them to death, and put away evil from Israel. But the children of Benjamin would not hearken to the voice of their brethren the children of Israel.
14 But the children of Benjamin gathered themselves together out of the cities unto Gibeah, to go out to battle against the children of Israel.
15 And the children of Benjamin were numbered at that time out of the cities twenty and six thousand men that drew sword, beside the inhabitants of Gibeah, which were numbered seven hundred chosen men.
16 Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men lefthanded; every one could sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss.
17 And the men of Israel, beside Benjamin, were numbered four hundred thousand men that drew sword: all these were men of war.
18 And the children of Israel arose, and went up to the house of God, and asked counsel of God, and said, Which of us shall go up first to the battle against the children of Benjamin? And the Lord said, Judah shall go up first.
19 And the children of Israel rose up in the morning, and encamped against Gibeah.
20 And the men of Israel went out to battle against Benjamin; and the men of Israel put themselves in array to fight against them at Gibeah.
21 And the children of Benjamin came forth out of Gibeah, and destroyed down to the ground of the Israelites that day twenty and two thousand men.
22 And the people the men of Israel encouraged themselves, and set their battle again in array in the place where they put themselves in array the first day.
23 (And the children of Israel went up and wept before the Lord until even, and asked counsel of the Lord, saying, Shall I go up again to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother? And the Lord said, Go up against him.)

2 Likes

the sad reality is that we no longer live in a world in which anything can be taken for granted…we are probably at a point where every adventist school, hospital and institution needs to hire a team of armed law enforcement officers…a quarterly church offering to support the salaries of these armed law enforcement officers, particularly in the case of schools full of vulnerable children, could literally prove to be a life saver one day, if it doesn’t prove to be an effective deterrent…

2 Likes

I find it extremely sad, when we no longer argue from the Gospel and the Spirit of Jesus Christ (“WWJD” if you want), but call for OT theocracy as an argument, favouring an armed and fighting CS (just as the IS does for Islam). Knowledge of the Bible you might have - knowledge of the Word you don’t.

@xpstr Mel - as we are not supposed to discuss here … have a good laugh. And if you would be so kind, read a little more of my comments here and there. You might notice where I am coming from :innocent:
Oh, and I forgot … welcome to Spectrum!

3 Likes

Hmmm…where is the teacher going to keep the gun during the day so, when needed, he/she has ready access to it? In a holster on his/her waist? In the top drawer of the desk? Will the school system accept responsibility for adequate instruction of the faculty on the use of the firearms and response protocol in a stressful emergency situation? If a trained law enforcement officer can lose his cool and throw a female student across the classroom (Spring Valley, SC), what is an exasperated teacher going to do to a difficult student when that teacher has ready access to a gun?

Is it possible that our responses to disaster are just as disastrous as the initial disaster?

6 Likes

And the teachers can all bring their guns to faculty meeting.

3 Likes

How many times does this need to be countered? The “government”–our elected officials–are just fine with “God on school grounds.” A student or teacher or custodian may pray privately at any time as long as it is not a mandated or an “official” prayer (although “one nation under God” is still recited). In addition, school clubs representing various faith traditions are free to meet in campus spaces.

The question is always, “Whose God?” Would you be pleased to have Muslim prayers or Latter-Day Saints prayers or Hindu prayers broadcast at your functions? H’mm? Yet all of these faith traditions representing their God are welcomed to attend U.S. public schools. At least for the present.

My wife teaches in a public school. My parents were both public school teachers. Student teachers from Union College teach in public schools. While God is welcomed on public schools, God is not forced on public schools–and I’m grateful for that.

2 Likes

[quote=“blc, post:6, topic:10158”]
Well, since the government schools don’t want God on school grounds
[/quote

Only someone who stopped thinking would say such a thing. Do you believe that because Christian schools, including Adventist ones, pray to God that no harm will befall them? And that public schools are open to killers at all times?

If you truly believe God will protect you, why do you have a gun?

1 Like

I have mixed feelings about this. At first glance I thought it wasn’t a bad idea, thinking a potential gunman would think twice before invading a school where the teacher’s are armed. But there are downside risks. What’s to keep some emotionally unbalanced student, who may be thinking of bringing a gun to school to shoot classmates, of grabbing the teacher’s gun in a fit of rage and start shooting??? Our Adventist schools should certainly not follow suit and start arming the teachers. I believe it would send a powerful faithless message.

We live in a dangerous age and I am all for allowing gun ownership. I have a few myself, mostly old hunting guns that I never shoot. I have never felt the need to pack a firearm with me, and I get a little uneasy of the nervous nellies who want a sidearm strapped to their belt wherever they go. I decry both gun control nuts and nuts who want to control everything with a gun!! I believe that “when guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns” and that “gun nuts are not stopping nuts from getting guns.”

1 Like