Students and Parents:
Schools across the country are being forced to prepare for the unthinkable – the potential of a mass school shooting. The news is full of incidents like Columbine, Newtown, Virginia Tech, Aurora, and so on. In fact, according to a USA Today article, there have been more than 200 mass shootings in the US since 2006. Schools, as “Gun Free Zones,” have been seen as “free fire zones” by troubled individuals. They knew that they would have no one firing back at them while they completed their goal of killing innocent and helpless students and staff.
The Forsan ISD school board has been watching the devastation and has been considering appropriate policies for over two years. Last spring, they changed local policy and created a group that we will call “Guardians.” They will have the right to carry a concealed handgun on school grounds.
The Guardians will be staff members who have passed each of the following requirements (and more):
- Hand selected staff members.
- Must have their Concealed Handgun License (CHL).
- Must pass a psychological exam just like local law enforcement.
- Must qualify annually with the specific handgun they will carry. This means qualifying on the gun range through a process which is under the control of the sheriff’s department.
- Must go through joint training with local law enforcement.
- Must be on the random drug testing list and pass all tests.
- Must be trained in tactics for denying an intruder entry into a classroom or facility.
- Must be approved by the school board.
The people who make it through the training and gain final approval are volunteers. In order to protect them from becoming targets of an intruder, their names are confidential and are not to be released. I ask that names not be guessed at nor rumors passed in an attempt to protect these individuals.
Signs will be posted on our campuses which say, “Attention: Please be aware that the staff of Forsan ISD may be armed and will use whatever force is necessary to protect our students.” These signs are important, not as a macho, chest bumping brag but as a warning that shooters should pick some other target. These campuses will no longer be “free fire zones” where bad actors can play out horrible video games in real life without being challenged.
So, may you carry a concealed handgun or even open carry (after January 1)? No. No students, parents nor most staff will be allowed to carry. Only those who have gone through the extensive training and met all requirements will be allowed to carry. Please continue to be aware that any gun rumored to be on campus or seen on campus should be reported immediately.
The decision to move forward with this policy came only after much School Board consideration, consultation with our sheriff, surveying staff members, involvement of a committee of parents/staff, and consultation with attorneys and other school districts. Since the decision, additional committees have been asked for input on the program including the District Improvement Committee (which includes 6 community members) and a nine member committee made up of high school student council officers.
Signs will go up and the program will be in full force this month. We wish everyone the very best as we enter the holiday season.