SPRING, Texas -- A gun store in Spring will begin offering free concealed handgun license classes to school employees hoping to encourage a change in Texas law that would allow teachers to carry guns on school campuses.
Christopher Rhodes, owner of Spring Guns and Ammo on Spring Cypress Road, says the tragedy in Connecticut that claimed the lives of 20 elementary school children and six elementary school employees increased his business three-fold. His business mirrors gun sales that have increased dramatically across the country.
Rhodes believes that if teachers were allowed to carry concealed weapons that Texas schools would be safer.
“Schools being a gun free zone seem to attract crazy people,” said Rhodes. “If they knew somebody might be armed it might change their philosophy about where to go to shoot up things.”
While a few Texas lawmakers are floating that idea, Rhodes says he wants to start now. If you’re a teacher, an administrator, a custodian or anyone who works at a school, he will offer you the state’s required concealed handgun training class for free. He normally charges $85 for the 10-hour class and gun range proficiency test required by state law.
“I’m a believer that if they allow teachers to carry in schools, not that they can stop these from happening altogether but they’d be more equipped to respond,” Aaron Abernathy, director of training at Spring Guns and Ammo.
But the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers are already on record being against the idea of arming teachers.
"Guns have no place in our schools. Period,” the organizations said in a written policy statement last month. “We must do everything we can to reduce the possibility of any gunfire in schools, and concentrate on ways to keep all guns off school property and ensure the safety of children and school employees.”
Gayle Fallon, the President of the Houston Federation of Teachers, and also a gun owner, was much more blunt. She called it “The most idiotic suggestion I’ve ever heard.” She said highly trained professionals with extensive law enforcement experience should be the only personnel considered for an armed response on a school campus.
But Spring Guns and Ammo will start offering free training for teachers anyway next month betting that the political winds in gun-free zones will eventually change.
“I’m hoping at some point they’ll change the law or one of our students will come out and lead the charge to get the law changed,” said Rhodes.
Harold ISD in north Texas has let members of its staff, with the proper training, carry weapons for the last four years. The rural district is 30 miles from the nearest police station and the superintendent says he is comfortable with, and proud, of the policy enacted there.