Did you hear about the Texas school district that beat Miami to the draw this fall and now allows teachers to carry handguns to school?
Please don't tell the publicity-crazed maniacs on the Miami-Dade School Board or guns as back-to-school attire for teachers will end up at the top of the new superintendent's to-do list.
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A small, rural school system in Harrold, Tex., is the first school district in the nation to allow its teachers to carry concealed weapons. In its whacked wisdom, the school board there said it wants to ward off massacres like the ones at Columbine, Virginia Tech and the Amish one-room schoolhouse in Pennsylvania. It doesn't matter that longtime residents are hard-pressed to recall a single violent incident in this poor, rural town, where some people don't even bother to lock their doors. The school board decided that pistol-packing teachers were a better form of security than armed peace officers since an attacker would not know whom to shoot first. The teachers supposedly received 40 hours of training from a private security consultant.
Let me get this straight: We already expect our teachers to be social workers, nurses, divorce counselors and pseudo-parents. Now we're going to add sharpshooting to their job requirements? I don't know about you, but if a crazed gunman were to invade my kid's school, I'd rather have teacher follow the lock-down procedures and help my child to safety - not whip out a gun and start blazing away like it's the Wild West. I can forgive my kid's teacher for making a mistake in grading a paper; I won't be as forgiving if she accidentally shoots my child.
Like most states, Texas bans weapons on school property, but the Legislature there carved out an exception allowing school boards to permit people with concealed handgun licenses to carry their weapons. Florida, by the way, bans guns - including those covered by concealed weapons permits - from school campuses. But don't feel smug and safe just yet.
Back in April, Gov. Charlie Crist signed a new law that took effect in July. It basically says employees with concealed weapons permits can keep guns in their cars at work, even if their bosses object. Schools are exempt (for now). But other child-friendly places that you would logically assume also would be exempt are not.
When Walt Disney World found a loophole in the new law and told employees not to stow guns in their cars, the National Rifle Association and the bill's makers went ballistic. The state recently worked out an agreement in which the House of Mouse now allows employees to keep weapons in their cars at offices in Celebration, the resort at Vero Beach and its cruise ship berth at Port Canaveral, among other locations. For the moment, Disney is allowed to continue to ban employees from storing guns in the parking lots of its theme parks and hotels. (Guests, on the other hand, can keep guns in their cars if they have a valid permit, which is a whole other frightening issue.)
Like Disney, Universal Studios in Orlando is fighting to preserve the same zero tolerance for employees bringing guns to work. But you may want to rethink that trip to SeaWorld, which proudly supports employees' rights to store arms in the parking lot. (Just in case they need to run out and grab their guns when those killer whales revolt.)
I'm not a big fan of Disney and its high-priced extortion that masquerades as entertainment. But I have to say I bow to Mickey for taking a stand on this one. Then again, if Goofy was allowed to bring a gun to work, maybe those lines at Space Mountain wouldn't be so long.