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Teachers in Arkansas to Carry Concealed Handguns at School

The measure to 'protect' students will bring an influx of arms into a Clarksville school this fall

- Sarah Lazare, staff writer

In this photo taken July 11, 2013, practice air-powered handguns sit on a teacher's desk in a classroom at Clarksville High School in Clarksville, Ark. Twenty Clarksville School District staff members are training during the summer to be armed security guards on campus. (Photo: AP/Danny Johnston)This fall when students fill the halls of Clarksville High School in Arkansas, over 20 teachers, administrators, and employees will be packing concealed 9 mm handguns.

Administrators say the influx of arms will protect students from attacks like last year's tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.

"We're not tying our money up in a guard 24/7 that we won't have to have unless something happens. We've got these people who are already hired and using them in other areas," Superintendent David Hopkins told the AP.

Yet, the Arkansas Education Association declared the development 'awful,' with Donna Morey— former president of the Arkansas Education Association—insisting, "We just think educators should be in the business of educating students, not carrying a weapon."

School heads are cashing in on an Arkansas state law that allows schools to employ armed security guards, as long as they have a license. Teachers who undergo 53 hours of training will meet the requirement.

This will be the first time that the conservative state will allow teachers to roam the hall with concealed guns, although a school in Garland County, Arkansas kept a chest of locked guns for use in emergencies, the AP reports.

In the wake of the Newton killings, the National Rifle Association called for a flood of guns into teachers' hands as a protection against further violence, despite the pleas of safety advocates—including family members of deceased Newton victims—for more gun controls.

"It is madness to me to put guns into an environment filled with children and unarmed people," Mark Potok—Southern Poverty Law Center senior fellow who has written extensively about the NRA—told Common Dreams. "This is the kind of insanity the NRA, which has largely been taken over by extremists, is pushing."

Center for American Progress studies show that weak gun laws and increased arms correlate with higher levels of gun violence: Arkansas has the 15th weakest gun laws in the US and is the 9th worst in gun violence.

School resources will be funneled into the arms program in a district beset with poverty and inequality. Over 28 percent of Clarksville residents live below the poverty level, with 11 percent living below half of the poverty level: rates significantly higher than the rest of the state, according to city data.

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