Teachers allowed to carry firearms at 20 schools in Arkansas

Teachers in our area may soon carrying guns alongside textbooks. It already exists in some Arkansas schools.

The debate has intensified after the school shooting in Florida.

Here in Memphis, Shelby County Schools have already said they are not in favor of any employees packing heat inside.

Across the bridge though, there’s a different conversation being had.

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In Clarksville, Arkansas, 20 schools employees carry firearms. They have for nearly five years. All the employees who carry are trained security guards, and practice active shooter drills with local police during the summer.

After 17 people died in a Florida school shooting, there is new discussion about whether Clarksville has the right equation for safety.

“I think it would be fine the way things are going in the world today. With the students shootings and all that. They need to be alarmed if you ask me,” Chavelia Mccullun, a parent who lives near Jonesboro.

Many parents and students in Arkansas told us they support the idea.

“We believe certain responsible teachers should have the right. Even inside of school,” said Tory Carter, a teenager from Crittenden County.

The Crittenden County Sheriff told FOX13 that every school in his county has a school resource officer, but said the area superintendents are open to the idea of arming more than one person inside.

The Cross County Sheriff is exploring as well. Sheriff J.R. Smith told us that two resource officers serve four schools, so some students are vulnerable at all times.

He wants to deputize certain employees so they can have a gun in class, and stop a shooter if need be.

“I think about it all the time, because it is happening everywhere,” said Joshua Fletcher, who worked at West Memphis schools for 25 years.

Fletcher is in favor of the idea, but not everyone is.

“At school, there should be no weapons,” said Ray Johnson, who has three kids.

The sheriffs of Crittenden and Cross said the conversation is just beginning and community input is key. Many people agree, after Florida, something has to change.

Both sheriffs told FOX13 they would not force any teacher to carry a gun that did not feel comfortable.
They also said everyone would be trained heavily. In fact, in Clarksville AR, the employees do active shooter drills with the local police.