By Nicholas Kusnetz
It wasn’t quite cold enough to need a vest on a recent Texas morning, but Matt Dossey was wearing one anyway. Made of heavy canvas, the vest might have concealed a pistol. There was no way to tell. Perhaps that was the point.
Dossey is superintendent at Jonesboro Independent School District, which serves a tiny community in the rolling Texas scrubland north of Austin. In January, the district decided to arm a select group of staffers with concealed weapons.
Jonesboro straddles the border between Coryell and Hamilton counties; it’s more than 15 miles to the nearest sheriff’s department. The town is unincorporated, and has no government or police. If someone were to attack the school, Dossey said, no one’s coming to protect the kids—not quickly, anyway.
Dossey was standing inside the school cafeteria, where students motored around a room decorated with harvest-themed paper cutouts. The district was hosting a pre-holiday Thanksgiving dinner, when parents join kids for a school lunch of turkey and stuffing. Looking around the room, Dossey, who hadn’t taken off his vest, said the new policy adds a layer of security that most everyone in town is happy with.
“If somebody walked in that door and opened fire,” he said, “we would have a chance.”
Ever since Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, last December, school districts and state governments have searched for better ways to protect students. Lawmakers introduced hundreds of school safety bills. Many called for arming more security guards or for arming teachers. Others went the opposite direction, tightening gun laws.