The Lee County School Board in Virginia voted unanimously Thursday evening to allow teachers to carry firearms at school to defend against potential threats, WJHL-TV reported. It is the first county in the commonwealth to allow teachers to have guns in schools, the outlet noted.
The measure will allow teachers to be armed in the coming school year, possibly as early as October, in each of the district's 11 schools.
"The only way to fight a gun, if somebody comes through these doors with a gun to shoot our students, is with another gun," school board Chairman Michael Kidwell said.
How the plan will work
Now that a plan to arm teachers has been approved, Lee County schools will begin taking applications from teachers interested in being armed on campus.
WJHL noted that "many" teachers have already volunteered for the role. According to Superintendent Brian Austin, there will be a limit to the number of teachers approved to carry on campus, and their names will not be publicly disclosed.
Those teachers will have to go through a screening and training process before being allowed to have a gun at school. The guns and training will be paid for by the district.
The best financial decision
The district considered more common options for increasing school security, such as metal detectors and school resource officers, but they turned out to be too expensive for the district to afford. Still, the board members felt they couldn't stand by and do nothing to make students safer.
"At least it gives us a chance," board member Rob Hines told WJHL. "If we sat there and did nothing, I couldn't sleep at night. At least we're trying to do something."
Who else arms teachers?
Other states, such as Texas, have districts with armed teachers, and have for several years now. Roughly 10 percent of Texas' districts allow staff to carry firearms, most of which made the decision after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut in 2012.
According to Vice News, at least 14 states arm some teachers and another 16 states give school boards the authority to set a campus carry policy for school staff.