As Cheyne Dougan rounded the corner at Clarksville High School, he saw three students on the floor moaning and crying. In a split-second, two more ran out of a nearby classroom.
"He's got a gun," one of them shouted as Dougan approached with his pistol drawn. Inside, he found one student holding another at gunpoint. Dougan aimed and fired three rounds at the gunman.
Preparing for such scenarios has become common for police after a school shooting in Connecticut last December left 20 children and six teachers dead. But Dougan is no policeman. He's the assistant principal of this school in Arkansas, and when classes resume in August, he will walk the halls with a 9 mm handgun.
Dougan is among more than 20 teachers, administrators and other school employees in this town who will carry concealed weapons throughout the school day, making use of a little-known Arkansas law that allows licensed, armed security guards on campus. After undergoing 53 hours of training, Dougan and other teachers at the school will be considered guards.
"The plan we've been given in the past is `Well, lock your doors, turn off your lights and hope for the best,'" Superintendent David Hopkins said. But as deadly incidents continued to happen in schools, he explained, the district decided, "That's not a plan."
Participants in the program are given a one-time $1,100 stipend to purchase a handgun and holster. Hopkins said the district is paying about $50,000 for ammunition and for training by Nighthawk Custom Training Academy, a private training facility in northwest Arkansas.
In the past, anti-gun groups and their parrots in the media have expressed strong opposition to teachers and armed guards carrying weapons in schools. So will this work to keep kids safe and prevent mass shootings?
Teachers in Utah have been carrying concealed weapons in schools for more than a decade now. The state has never had a mass shooting in its schools and has never had an accidental shootings or problems with students getting their hands on a teacher's gun.