Odessan starts petition for guns in school
Jan 04, 2013 (Odessa American - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
An Odessa man has started a petition hoping to change the policies in schools in Midland and Ector counties to allow concealed carry for teachers.
Derek New said he started the petition right after Christmas and has always felt that teachers should be allowed to carry weapons in school.
"When you put people in a place where they have no means to defend themselves, you create an enriched environment of victims," New said. "Our schools in our country have become killing grounds and I believe whole heartedly that is due to the fact that they are gun-free zones."
In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., New said he believes teachers with weapons would have lessened the numbers of those killed.
Adam Lanza, 20, opened fire Dec. 14 at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school, killing 20 children and six adults before killing himself.
He also killed his mother at her home before going to the school, according to police.
New said if teachers had any weapons to fight back, fewer people would have been killed in the shooting.
"Just the public knowledge that teachers have the authority and ability to carry is a deterrent," New said.
Chester Bussell, the owner of Brush Mountain Outfitters, said he displayed the petition in his gun shop because he believes certain licensed teachers should be allowed to carry guns in school.
The petition at Bussell's store has more than 60 signatures of people who want ECISD to allow teachers to carry concealed weapons.
"The only defense you'll have in a school is if someone carries a weapon," he said.
But both Bussell and New said the teachers carrying weapons would need to be licensed to carry, and both said they were not against further mental evaluations of teachers who wanted to carry weapons.
Tom Pace, a member of the ECISD school board, said he spoke with Superintendent Hector Mendez, who was looking into security issues at the district.
"I doubt we would take any action on anything until we see the results of that particular study," Pace said. "I'm sure that's one of the options being examined."
Pace said it's important to protect the classrooms in the district, and that may mean changing policy.
"My only reservation is to ensure that we don't have any accidents," Pace said. "I think there's always a need to review all of our policies and that brought to a head that particular one."
New said he didn't want to reveal how long he would leave the petitions out at gun stores in Midland and Odessa, but he said he would eventually present the petitions to the two school boards.
New also is offering free CHL training to educators and school employees as long as they sign his petition. To schedule training, call 557-0443. Other instructors offering free training to educators include Jennifer Bussell, 208-5355, and Jason Pike, 661-4642.
Pike said he also wants to give educators a one- to two-day defensive weapons course, teaching them safety issues with guns, cleaning guns, and how to recognize threats and multiple threats.
"We're going to try to get them as advanced as they possibly can be to protect the kids," Pike said.
Pike said the first course will be Feb. 23, and New said he will do the courses once to twice a month.
Contact Jon Vanderlaan on twitter at @OAcourts, on Facebook at OA Jon Vanderlaan or call 432-333-7763.
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