The topic was a decision adopted by a rural north Texas school district to permit teachers to carry guns in the classroom. Harrold, TX School Superintendent David Thweatt explained that the decision was prompted by the school's close proximity to an interstate and its remoteness—thirty minutes away from law enforcement—factors presumably making it a tempting target. Thweatt made clear that all guns have to be approved by the school board and teachers have to undergo extensive safety and related training. None of that mattered to Fallon.
HARRY SMITH: Gayle, when you first heard about this, what was your reaction?
GAYLE FALLON: Initially I thought it was a joke. However, after a couple of media calls, we realized it wasn't and we were asked whether our district would consider it, and it was absolutely no way would we consider it. One of the things that hit me is, you know, Columbine and the other incidents were generally initiated by students. Now, I've been around teachers a long time. They don't have it in them to aim at a student and kill him. They'll freeze. Nor would I want them to.
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When a young person takes up arms and starts murdering people, he ceases being a "student" and becomes a killer. For a teachers union prez, Fallon certainly has a low opinion of her colleagues, to think they'd be incapable of acting to save innocent life. As for her notion that mass school murders "were generally initiated by students": so what? If Fallon is right and teachers would freeze in such situations, no harm done beyond that resulting from inaction. But what of cases like that of the Amish school shooting of 2006 in which an armed man murdered five girls aged 6-13? Not to mention the possibility of terrorist incidents, such as the Beslan massacre, in which 334 hostages were ultimately killed.
Smith conducted the segment in reasonably balanced fashion, even suggesting that the rule might have a deterrent effect. But at one point he stated "when looking at this, and I want to be as serious as possible." The inference is that Smith's instinctive reaction, one that he worked to overcome, was to treat the district's decision like Fallon did: as a joke.
Update: MRC News Analyst Kyle Drennen provided a full transcript of the segment:
HARRY SMITH: Plus, a controversial decision by a Texas school district. It has decided to allow teachers to carry guns into the classroom. Will this prevent violence? We'll have a debate, coming up.
JULIE CHEN: Also, teachers carrying guns into the classroom. Will it prevent the next Columbine or Virginia Tech. The superintendent in Texas thinks so. We'll talk to him.
SMITH: Still ahead this morning, a school district in Texas is the first in the nation to let teachers carry guns. We're going to have a debate with the school superintendent and the president of the Houston Federation of Teachers.
HARRY SMITH: A rural Texas school district has made a decision that appears to be the first of its kind in the country. Teachers are now permitted to carry guns. Harrold, Texas is located near the border with Oklahoma. Joining us is the District Superintendent, David Thweatt, and Gayle Fallon, President of Houston Federation of Teachers is also with us this morning. Good morning to you both.
[GRAPHIC ON SCREEN: School Safety Gone Too Far? Texas District Allows Teachers to Carry Guns In School.]
GAYLE FALLON: Good morning.
DAVID THWEATT: Good morning, Harry.
SMITH: Mr. Thweatt, let me start with you. What made you decide to try and get this passed through your school board and why did you think this was a good idea?
DAVID THWEATT: Well Harry, we're looking at all the issues surrounding school violence, anything, starting with Columbine all the way up to the Pennsylvania shootings. And we started looking at state-of-the-art security, which we installed. And then we found that that was not good enough because we had a problem with being next to a 287 road north of us. And we're right 500 miles -- 500 feet off of that particular road. And then on top of that, we're about 30 minutes from law enforcement. And we started asking hard questions. What's going to happen when we get an active shooter into our school? And that's the reason we decided to go in this direction.
SMITH: Let me ask you this, are the weapons of the teachers, are they concealed, are they holstered? How -- how are they carried in the school?
THWEATT: Yeah, there are several components of this. They are concealed. They do have to be approved by our school board. And then they have to undergo extensive safety training and other training in hostage situations, et cetera, before we've installed this.
SMITH: Okay. Alright, Gayle, when you heard about this, what was your reaction?
FALLON: Initially, I thought it was a joke. However, after a couple of media calls we realized that it wasn't and we were asked would our district consider it. And it was absolutely no way would we consider it. One of the things that hit me is, you know, Columbine and the other incidents were generally initiated by students. Now, I've been around teachers a long time. They don't have it in them to aim at a student and kill them. They'll freeze.
FALLON: And nor would I want them to.
SMITH: Right. Mr. Thweatt, I guess when looking at this, and I want to be as serious as possible, what kinds of scenario are you imagining that your teachers might be called into actually using these arms, or do you just think perhaps folks knowing that they have arms in the school may be a preventive measure in and of itself?
THWEATT: I think it would, Harry. And because any time we've looked at these school shootings they've occurred after we've designated schools across the nation as gun-free zones. The people who are going into these situations are evil. I'm not going to be politically correct on this. I don't care what their problems were. They've gone in and killed children. And if they come into our school, they are going to meet resistance. And I think if we did have some resistance in our schools, these crackpots or whoever they are would stop going into them.
SMITH: Alright, Miss. Fallon, real quickly. Just, if someone -- if you woke up tomorrow and found out that Houston were going to allow teachers to carry guns in the schools, what would you do?
FALLON: We would elect a new school board immediately. I think what's going to happen, there is a loophole in the law that's allowed this. But our legislature meets in January. And the legislators I've talked with said they're going to plugging that loophole.
SMITH: Alright, we got to go for now. David Theatt, Gayle Fallon, thanks very much for your time this morning. Do appreciate it.
THWEATT: Thanks, Harry.
SMITH: You bet.