Tightened security is becoming a fact of life for school campuses all across the country, but here in South Texas, the Sinton Independent School District has raised the bar.
Sinton ISD has hired armed security guards and put them on all their campuses. Wednesday was their first day on the job, and while there is a mix of community support and disapproval, San Patricio County Sheriff Leroy Moody said armed guards are not the answer to the situation.
"The answer to the situation is a wholesome family life," Moody said. "Young people who grow up and get on these wild games that they play, all this murder and all this, and all that mayhem they see on TV; after a while they get to believing all of that."
The new private security officers are each armed with a handgun, extra clips, a Taser, pepper spray, a baton and three sets of handcuffs.
"If there's an individual out there that is intent on doing harm, we want them to know that, if they intend to do that harm in Sinton, they're going to be met with a gun," Sinton ISD Superintendent Steve VanMatre said.
"We're not here to try and change the world," said Rudolfo Maldonado, one of Sinton's new armed security officers. "We're just here to protect the children, and if it means that we have to go toe-to-toe with somebody, then we're going to do so."
The idea does have support in the community, but not everyone thinks having armed security guards in the schools is a good idea.
"I think it's great. I mean, they need security there at the schools," Sinton resident Sarah Luna said. "There's a lot of young kids that you never know what can happen one day. You could just be going to school and then the next thing you know you're on lockdown for God knows what."
"Well, I think the more guns people have, the more people are going to get killed," Sinton resident John Miller said. "It doesn't matter whether it's guards or not."
Sheriff Moody blames recent shootings across the country on the breakdown of the family in modern society, and said violence in the media and video games desensitizes young people from reality.
"I've been shot at. I've shot at people, and you know, I've been kidnapped, and when you look down the barrel of your own gun, your way of thinking about life changes," Moody said. "But these kids have no fear of death."
Whether having armed security officers in the schools can protect against the danger posed by those who would do the schools harm is up for debate, and whether it is a good or bad idea is for you to decide. What is not up for debate is that this is all new territory, and maybe a sign of the times.
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