Are Texas Schools Gun Free Zones

The village of Harrold is anything but the center of the world. In the United States, too, no one had ever heard of the place in the dusty and rather monotonous north of Texas. The 300-inhabitant community lies lonely in the barren landscape: the trucks on nearby Highway 287, America's north-south artery, thunder past unmoved, and the Wilbarger County's sheriff's office is 40 kilometers away. But it is precisely this loneliness that is the reason that Harrold is now making headlines: From now on, the teachers there are allowed to carry firearms in order to protect their 110 students from potential rampage and violence.

"We live around 30 minutes away from any police protection," grumbles David Thweatt, Harrold's top school supervisor, "if someone attacks here, 150 of us are quickly dead. It would be a bloodbath." The current ban on weapons on the school premises leaves the pupils defenseless to any violent criminal - and who knows which dark guys pass by on the autobahn every day?

Character test, gun license and proper training

As the first school district in the entire United States, Harrold decided to allow selected teachers and caretakers to carry pistols and revolvers for the purpose of robust self-defense. "We are a potential target," Thweatt justifies the rearmament, which has caused a stir across the United States. "Leaving our students unprotected is like saying to a vicious dog: Draft!"

Three weeks before the start of the school year, the Texas precedent is likely to spark a new debate on gun violence in US schools. So far, a general gun ban has been in effect at almost all educational establishments in the country. In addition, terrible assassinations such as the murder of twelve schoolmates by two students at Columbine High School in Littleton / Colorado and the massacre at the University of Virginia Tech in April 2007, which resulted in a total of 33 deaths, tended to tighten the existing rules.

Supporters of the right to gun ownership enshrined in the US constitution argue that it was precisely these restrictions that provoked a wave of violence in US schools. This is exactly the line that school supervisor Thweatt follows: "It wasn't until the schools became gun-free zones that they became a target for guys who want to count the dead," says Harrold with a martial undertone. In addition, only selected members of his teaching staff would be armed - after a previous character test, with a gun license and proper training.

On the next page: Why the governor of Texas is behind the residents of Harrold - and what armament has to do with the Republicans.