Clarksville, Arkansas is a small rural town of about 9,250 people. It’s a picturesque town lying along the northern banks of the Arkansas River about 100 miles northwest from Little Rock in the foothills of the Ozarks. Other than agriculture and the annual Johnson County Peach Festival, Clarksville is also home to the University of the Ozarks and a Presbyterian Church USA affiliated school with an enrollment of less than 700 students.
Possibly the other claim to fame for this quaint little hamlet is their school district. In 2011, they were the first district in all of Arkansas to give every 7th through 12th grade student a laptop to take home and use for school work. They also boast a graduation rate of 92%.
The Clarksville School District is gaining a new claim to fame in that they are putting their teachers and staff through a firearms training course and once completed, will be allowed to carry a firearm with them on school grounds. The program will be on a volunteer basis only.
When David Hopkins, Superintendent of the district, announced his plans to arm his faculty and staff, State Attorney General Dustin McDaniel advised him against the program. McDaniel’s ruling was based upon his assumption that Hopkins was somehow intending to deputize faculty and staff, but that is not the case. When Hopkins saw that McDaniel’s ruling was based upon that false assumption, he determined that it was neither accurate nor binding, allowing him to move forward with his program.
The Clarksville schools begin their fall semester on August 19. If the state police don’t step in and interfere, those faculty and staff that have completed their training and voluntarily agreed to carry a firearm with them to school will do so. According to Hopkins:
“We’re sitting on go. The only thing that’s detracting from this process is the attorney general’s erroneous opinion.”
A third of those trained are still awaiting the carry permits from the state and Hopkins said that if the state does not issue them, he will consider legal action to obtain them.
Personally, I think it’s the best way to protect the students at every school. It’s been proven time and time again that the mass shooters target gun free zones because the victims are defenseless and easy targets. I also feel that in some way, the mass shooters are cowards and can’t bear the thought of encountering armed resistance.
Think about it. How many times do you hear about a shooting or physical attack at a cop bar or a military bar? Compared to other bars, they are few and far between. Why? Because everyone knows that the bar is filled with people carrying guns. The same will apply to schools as well. Once word gets out that teachers and staff are packing weapons, the chances of a Sandy Hook style shooting will drastically drop and that is the primary reason to do it. It’s not put teachers and staff in the position to shoot someone, but to act as a deterrent to anyone thinking about the school as a target.
It demonstrates just how important the well-being and safety of the students in Clarksville are to those charged to educate them. My hat goes off to Superintendent David Hopkins, his faculty and staff and I pray that they are an example for other school districts in Arkansas and other states to do the same.