Texas Gov. Rick Perry indicated Monday that he supported allowing teachers and administrators to carry concealed handguns in response to the Connecticut school shooting that left 20 children and six adults dead.
Local school districts should decide their own policies, Perry said. But if someone has obtained a concealed-handgun license, he said, "You should be able to carry your handgun anywhere in this state."
He clarified that private property owners should be allowed to impose their own restrictions.
Perry was asked about calls for stricter gun control laws Monday at a Tea Party forum in North Richland Hills, a Fort Worth suburb.
Perry said that he believed lawmakers should consider mental health issues as well as ways to make schools safer.
"It appears that this was a young man who was very disturbed," Perry said.
When Perry talked about how he had read about one district allowing teachers, administrators and others to carry weapons, he was interrupted by loud applause from the crowd.
Perry has already directed Texas school districts to review their emergency operation plans in the wake of the massacre. His voice broke and he paused several times as he first acknowledged Friday's shootings, calling them a tragedy that "is not right."
"One of the things that I hope we don't see from our federal government is this knee-jerk reaction from Washington, D.C., when there is an event that occurs, that they come in and they think they know the answer," he said.
Some former and current educators said they support the idea of allowing guns on campus, but admit there could be issues.
Houstonian Larry Cullen said, "The biggest problem of course, they'd have to have it well concealed where no one cold take it off their person like a student."
The President of the Houston Teachers Union said there are other more effective ways to protect students, like limiting access.
Gayle Fallon said, "At most schools, there are multiple entrances that are open and you just go in and wander around, which is not a good thing."
"I think it's a horrible idea. Arming police and putting them on campus is fine. They are trained to use a weapon. A lot of teachers wouldn't want to be armed. We have a lot that don't want to hold a gun in their hand. I think the last thing we need is to have more guns on campus," Fallon said.
No school districts in the Houston area allow guns on campus, including those with concealed-handgun licenses. There are currently no plans to change that policy, district officials said.
The Harrold School District in northwest Texas has allowed an undisclosed number of teachers and staff members to carry concealed handguns to work. The superintendent said it enhances student safety.