Bee County is a mostly pastoral area in a state below the Mason-Dixon line and boasts a number of well-stocked shopping malls and several tourist-friendly towns. some with farm-to-table restaurants such as the Maroon Hen. The county also has a well-developed and highly regarded school system of about 4,000 students in elementary to high school grades. Recently, the Bee County Board of Education approved a set of rules permitting its students over the age of 5 to carry weapons to school as protection against armed intruders and in defense of the premises. This decision was reached following extended discussion and evaluation of the cost-benefit analysis of employing armed resource officers to protect the students vs. providing training and weapons to faculty and staff.
“Among other things,” announced the chairman of the board, “we were convinced that our students would benefit from first-hand experience with constitutional rights to bear arms and not be deprived of life.” Resource officers, the board concluded, would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per year better spent on roof and facility repairs. “Teachers and staff indicated they wished to store the weapons in lockers, which would be awkward in threat situations,” the chairman added. Teachers and staff also voiced some desire to be trained in the use of the weapons, as well as having the school board purchase them as though they were instructional materials.
Students who did not have access to personal weapons or wished not to be armed while at school would be required to partner up with one who carried a firearm. In this way, the unarmed students would, at least, experience the benefits of the Second Amendment on a second-hand, derivative basis, and develop new friendships. No age requirement is established for students to be armed while attending school on the theory that the Constitution sets no such limit. Parents of pistol-packing pupils would be responsible to pay for ammunition for their children up to 50 rounds for automatic weapons.
Following a number of such local decisions, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos stated that she would not—despite Democratic protests on legal matters—stand in the way of localities purchasing weapons for teachers and staff, along with firearms training, as within budgetary discretion. Presumably, DeVos would also support pedagogical activities for the students, including field trips to firing ranges, hunting excursions, and internships for high schoolers at NRA headquarters. It is not clear whether school funds could be used to purchase guns or ammunition for students, or even training.
The state’s attorney general issued a legal opinion that Bee County’s decision violated state law on the matter with respect to teachers bearing arms. Bee’s school board chair retorted that the state law ban does not apply to students, all of whom will be trained by the sheriff’s department to qualify as special conservators of the peace [SCOPs]. “We recognize that schools are gun-free zones,” he continued, “but that simply creates buildings filled with sitting ducks. Armed cadres of student SCOPs will act as a serious deterrent to bad guys with guns.” The school board will consider the erection or attachment of signs to the county’s schools clearly alerting any persons entering the properties that all premises are “locked and loaded” by armed students.
Critics of the plan expressed concerns about situations involving disputes among students, for example over prom dates, athletics, and the like. Others voiced reservations about equality between students possessing handguns versus those with automatic weapons, further exacerbating income disparities and technological skills. Some parents advocated for software and 3D printers to improve the technology curriculum.
An unscientific, random survey of schoolchildren produced excited responses for the new school year and the possibilities for standing on school grounds with confidence.