Up In ArmsCarolyn Billington shoots a 9mm Smith & Wesson during a concealed handgun training class offered to teachers and staff of Clifton Independent School District in Clifton, Texas. She is a receptionist at Clifton Elementary School.

Up In Arms: After the Sandy Hook Tragedy, Some Texas Schools Arm Their Teachers


A version of this story ran in the April 2013 issue.


In December 2012, just one American school district—in tiny Harrold, Texas, west of Wichita Falls—let teachers carry guns at school. After the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School that month, school boards across the state and country are following Harrold’s lead.

Since January, at least seven more Texas school districts have seen the wisdom of arming teachers: Union Grove, Cayuga, Van, Westwood, Jonesboro, Ganado and Louise ISDs. They’re spread across the state, but all are very small, and most are far from the nearest police.

“It’s a different mindset of the people and the culture out here in rural communities,” says Matt Dossey, superintendent of Jonesboro ISD west of Waco (see photo, page 15). Kids grow up around guns, and everyone helps to keep the town running—Dossey is the town’s Baptist pastor, too. If there’s a crisis at his school, outside help is half an hour away.

Dossey got shivers thinking about his school trying to cope with a Sandy Hook-style shooting. Under the district’s “Guardian Angel Program,” a few teachers can carry guns in secret. “This isn’t some game,” he says. “This isn’t the Old West. This is a serious, serious deal.”

The risks of bringing more guns into schools became clear in late February when a maintenance worker in the Van ISD in East Texas accidentally shot himself at a district-sponsored gun training.

But whatever the risks, there will undoubtedly soon be more guns in Texas schools. —Patrick Michels