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TYLER, TX (KLTV) -
In the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy, it has been suggested by some that qualified teachers should be allowed to have a gun at school.
We spoke with Smith County Sheriff-elect Larry Smith to get his opinion on the controversial topic after he spoke to a Chapel Hill school class about the decisions the students make today affecting the rest of their lives.
Smith has been employed by several different law enforcement agencies for over 35 years, and will soon be the Smith County Sheriff.
He has some definite opinions about arming teachers.
"If they're going to be armed, they should be like law enforcement is required to do, and airline pilots are required to do, and that's go through their psychological evaluation and have all kinds of training that directly relates to them being able to carry a gun before they do. A teacher's first job is to teach, and our job in law enforcement is to make this as safe an environment as we can for them to do that teaching," Smith said.
Smith is not against the idea of armed teachers, but he says the training required to take on an active gunman is extensive.
"That's putting an undue burden on them to require them to be armed," Smith stated.
Police officers need extra training in situations like what happened in Newtown.
"Every police officer's not trained to do that. The two police officers that went in to Connecticut, from my understanding, had the training necessary for an active shooter. They didn't stand by and wait for the SWAT team and let the massacre keep going on. We'll never know how many other children's lives that those two officers did save," Smith told us.
Smith has a different idea.
I think we need to reprioritize where our tax dollars are spent, add more school resource officers, and just try that," Smith said.
Smith thinks we should utilize resources we already have.
We contacted the Tyler Police Department and they said that there is already a law in place about who is permitted to carry guns on public school campuses and that they will uphold that law.
Right now it is illegal for anyone but law enforcement to carry a gun onto a public school campus.