'A huge deterrent': After Uvalde tragedy, a Texas school says teachers can carry guns on campus
In the wake of Tuesday's shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, in which 18-year-old Salvador Ramos killed 19 children and two teachers before being fatally shot by the police, the only school in the small town of Utopia, also in Texas, has said its teachers and staff can carry guns on campus to prevent an Uvalde-like tragedy.
“There's no 100%-of-the-time way to stop such things from happening. The only school in our town has kids ranging from pre-kindergarten through high school,” said 56-year-old Michael Derry, who has led the Utopia School District since 2020.
Derry, though, described as a ‘huge deterrent,’ the presence of armed employees in the facility, who, he remarked, ‘will do whatever is necessary to protect our children.’
Teachers and staff of Utopia, who want to carry guns, are required to submit an application, besides possessing a firearms license. The school's board will carry out a background check of applicants before making its decision, said Derry.
He also described the policy as a way to mitigate the absence of law enforcement in the area. “We're very secluded in the northeastern part of the country, and now the sheriff's department is busy in the southern part, with people coming across from Mexico. So, it takes at least 25-30 minutes for law enforcement to reach us. It's too late,” noted Derry.
In the case of Uvalde, the local police department is under severe criticism for not entering the Robb Elementary School for more than an hour despite Ramos opening fire inside. The school's district police chief, who was the commander at the scene, repeatedly thought Ramos was barricaded inside the classrooms and that students were no longer at risk; he later called it a ‘wrong decision.’
In Texas, teachers and school staff were allowed to carry guns since 2013. In nine years since then, dozens of schools have embraced the policy.
(With AFP inputs)
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