Tiny Arkansas Town Arms 20 Teachers

They were each given $1,100 to buy handgun, holster

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Jul 30, 2013 8:34 AM CDT

(Newser) – When school resumes in August, more than 20 teachers and other school employees in Clarksville, Ark., will carry concealed weapons throughout the school day, making use of a little-known Arkansas law that allows licensed, armed security guards on campus. Clarksville, a community of 9,200 people, isn't known for having dangerous schools. But district Superintendent David Hopkins says he faced a flood of calls from parents worried about safety after the attack last year at Sandy Hook Elementary. Hopkins says school leaders didn't see why the district couldn't rely on its own staff and teachers to protect students rather than hire someone.

After undergoing 53 hours of training, the newly armed teachers (whose identities will be kept secret) will now be considered guards. Participants in the program are given a one-time $1,100 stipend to purchase a handgun and holster. Hopkins says the district is paying about $50,000 for ammunition and training, which includes various role-playing scenarios involving shooters on campus, using real students as actors. "If they're concealed, then it's no big deal," says one rising 7th-grader who participated in the training. But at least one parent thinks it is—Sherry Wommack says the program is one reason she's taking her son, a rising 8th-grader, out of Clarksville's schools. "I think police officers are trained to make those decisions, not teachers," she says.

A Clarksville schools faculty member carries a practice handgun toward a classroom in the city's high school, as students portray victims in a mock school shooting scenario.
A Clarksville schools faculty member carries a practice handgun toward a classroom in the city's high school, as students portray victims in a mock school shooting scenario.   (Danny Johnston)
A sign indicates police training in progress as police and weapons instructors walk in the hallways of Clarksville High School.
A sign indicates "police training in progress" as police and weapons instructors walk in the hallways of Clarksville High School.   (Danny Johnston)
Practice air-powered handguns sit on a teacher's desk in a classroom at Clarksville High School.
Practice air-powered handguns sit on a teacher's desk in a classroom at Clarksville High School.   (Danny Johnston)
A student loads blank ammunition into one of two starter pistols being used for training exercises at Clarksville High School.
A student loads blank ammunition into one of two starter pistols being used for training exercises at Clarksville High School.   (Danny Johnston)
Cheyne Dougan, assistant principal at Clarksville High School.
Cheyne Dougan, assistant principal at Clarksville High School.   (Danny Johnston)
A Clarksville public schools faculty member participates in active-shooter training at the city's high school.
A Clarksville public schools faculty member participates in active-shooter training at the city's high school.   (Danny Johnston)
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