Arkansas vetoes school’s plan to arm teachers

Robby Soave | Reporter

An Arkansas school district’s plan to arm teachers and staff with guns as a safeguard against school shootings has once again been quashed by the state — and this time, perhaps for good.

Clarksville School District was in the final stages of implementing its plan, in which they had already invested time and money, when state Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued an unfavorable opinion on the issue. But since his opinion is non-binding, Clarksville Superintendent David Hopkins vowed to press on earlier this month.

Teachers were still waiting on gun permits from a state licensing board, however.

Now, that board has decided to issue no further licenses, and suspend the ones it previously issued.

“I just think if you’re doing security guards, then the school needs to hire outside security who are trained to do security,” said Jack Acre, one of the seven voting members of the Arkansas Board of Private Investigators and Private Security Companies, in a statement.

The ruling came as a profound disappointment to Hopkins, who believes the safety of his schools is at stake.

“Our motivation is simply to put something in place to take care of our kids, and that’s been the goal from the very beginning,” he said in a statement.

Still, Hopkins said he has no choice but to comply with the ruling — despite having already put the teachers who agree to carry weapons through a rigorous two-day training program.

Some Arkansas schools have had deputized staff to carry guns for the last 25 years. Now their licenses are in danger as well: the board indicated that it will likely vote to revoke all licenses to schools when it meets next month.

Nic Horton, editor of the Arkansas Project, lamented the fact that state bureaucrats were so determined to curtail citizens’ rights and their ability to protect themselves.

“We have a federal Second Amendment in this country that allows us to bear arms,” he wrote. “Under our state constitution, we have the right to bear arms — protected with arguably stronger language than the federal constitution. And even more importantly, we have a natural right to self-defense.”

To have any hope of continuing with the plan, Clarksville schools will have to convince the board to change its mind at the meeting in September. Meanwhile, fall classes begin on Monday.

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