Friday, August 29, 2008

Texas school allows teachers, if properly licensed, to be armed


When I lived in Dallas in the 1980s, I drove northwest up US 287, past Wichita Falls, Texas, all the way past Vernon a few times, and I probably passed through the town of Harrold. In fact, Thalia (“The Last Picture Show”, a period movie based on the novel by Larry McMurty) is not too far away. I even remember visiting a county fair and carnival in Vernon once, and there was even a “freak show” (with performers who could challenge you). That’s the mood of the area as I recall it.

Today, Aug. 29, The New York Times, in a front page story by James C. McKinley, notes that in this small town teachers can carry concealed weapons if properly licensed and trained. The idea is, frankly, a subtle and indirect form of deterrence. ““Our people just don’t want their children to be fish in a bowl,” the school superintendent (Wilbarger County) David Thweatt was quoted as saying. Texas allows an exception to its weapons-free zone law for schools (found generally in all states) for persons who are properly licensed. The program is voluntary, but it would seem to put teachers in a further position of enforcing discipline and defending minors from the possibility of deadly threats.

The story link is here.

In Virginia, where I have subbed, there is no exception. On one day in May, 2005 a regular teacher was arrested at Westfield High School in Fairfax County for having a weapon locked in the trunk of his car when it was parked on school property. This happened on a day that I subbed there, and there was an emergency meeting at the end of the school day that I attended. Some kind of unusual tip had led to his arrest. Virginia’s specific statute for this issue is here.

That raised, in my mind, the another question. Could a teacher or sub be charged with anything for possessing “adult” (although otherwise legal) printed matter in his car, if locked up? It would be illegal to distribute such materials, but what about their mere presence in a locked automobile for later personal use? I couldn’t find anything in Virginia statutes that say anything like that, but the thought is scary. Other states could have such laws. Study the link for more of Virginia’s statutes here.

Picture: "Mars soil" prairie country north of Abilene, TX

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