More than 700 teachers and administrators from across the state of Texas attended a free concealed-handgun class at Kennendale High School on Saturday.
The class, organized by former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (before his death) and Dalworthington Gardens Police Chief Bill Waybourn, was held in the Performing Arts Center of the Dallas-Fort Worth area high school. Participants who finish the course as well as live-ammunition firing practice held at a private range will be eligible for a concealed-handgun license.
"It went from 20 to 30 teachers to the more than 700 we have here today. It just exploded with Chris’ involvement," Waybourn told The Dallas Morning News.
In the wake of the shooting in Newtown last December, the class was envisioned by former Navy SEAL sniper, Kyle, as a way of showing folks how to fight back.
Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield, were killed at a shooting range in Erath County, Texas, on Feb. 2 by fellow veteran SEAL Eddie Ray Routh, who was suffering from PTSD. A memorial was held for Kyle on Feb. 11.
The Texas Senate Education Committee approved a measure last week to train teachers for gunfights at campus sporting events and in board meetings. The bill, supported by Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston), which requires 16 hours of training to show teachers how to protect students and return fire, is now headed to the full chamber for approval.
Patrick said that at the moment three school boards in the state allow teachers who are certified to carry concealed weapons to do so in the classroom. The new proposal will apply to charter schools and public schools, which do not already have armed guards on site.
First grade teacher Leah Smith told the Texas Star Telegram that she immediately signed up for the free class after someone tried to break into her Grand Prairie home during spring break. "That was a wake-up call," said Smith. "We got lucky this time, but we knew we needed to better arm ourselves.”
Elementary school principal Lolita Looney was happy to learn how to protect herself outside the classroom as well.
"We never know who we'll run into at the grocery store or just out and about. We should be prepared," Looney said.