MOODY — Weapons locked and loaded, the shooters on the line waited for the command.
Pistols barked and bullets bit through paper targets just a few yards downrange.
Six of the shooters qualifying for the Texas concealed-handgun license at the private gun range here last week were employees of Tarver Elementary School in Belton.
The educators on the firing line — three teachers, a principal, an assistant principal and a school secretary — were part of a growing trend in concealed-handgun license courses, said Adam Fitzer, owner of Texas Weapon Instructors, the Gatesville-based company conducting the class.
Since the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn., several Central Texas school boards have considered or adopted policies to allow some employees to carry concealed handguns at school.
After Sandy Hook, Fitzer was one of several gun instructors to offer the basic concealed-handgun course free to school employees.
Number of course applicants jumps
The number of applicants to Fitzer’s course, most of them area teachers, has quadrupled.
The Jonesboro school district has adopted a policy to train select school employees to carry firearms at school as part of its Guardian Angel program.
The Gatesville Independent School District is developing a firearm policy template that the school board will consider later this month.
Tarver principal Lois Knox, one of the trainees here last week, said she doesn’t know whether the Belton school board will consider a handgun policy but believes the training could be a confidence booster for some teachers.
Defense tactics that don’t involve weapons
Fitzer and TWI instructor Kevin Grieve have added classroom-specific material to the course curriculum including defensive tactics that do not involve firearms.
Lock and barricade the doors, turn off the lights, lie on the floor to avoid bullets coming through the walls, listen to and obey police when they arrive, Grieve said.
He recited the SWAT team motto: “In God we trust, everyone else keep your hands where I can see them.”
Fitzer commended the teachers for preparing themselves for the “mad minute” of chaos when the shooting starts.
“Be the sheepdogs” protecting the flock from predators, he said.
“You have to be sure of yourself,” Fitzer said. “If you are not, you shouldn’t carry.”
Knox agreed that “not everyone should carry” a firearm.