A gun rights group held a political event in a Santa Fe park Saturday afternoon, during which members called for more public school employees to be armed.
The group, called This is Texas Freedom Force, held the “Carry For Our Kids” event at Runge Park, a small public park about 2 miles from Santa Fe High School.
The group has held pro-gun rallies in other cities, as well as events protesting removal of Confederate monuments from some cities. Pictures posted on the group’s website show members at events carrying rifles, wearing camouflage and displaying Confederate flags.
The crowd of more than 60 people on Saturday afternoon called for arming teachers, with some carrying signs that stated: “Who you gonna call? Gun toters.”
It’s time that teachers feel safe in classrooms, Fredericksburg resident David Treibs said.
“I think it’s the only effective method we can use,” he said. “I’m certified as a teacher. I would like the option to be armed.”
It was the first such political event in Santa Fe since a May 18 shooting at Santa Fe High School left 10 people dead and 13 others injured.
Most events held in Santa Fe since the shooting have focused on fundraising for victims and emotional support.
Brandon Burkhardt, the group’s president, said he was grateful for the people who attended the event and who vocalized their opinions.
“We are the first line of defense,” he said. “We have to be very vocal. If we want to protect our students, we have to come up with better solutions.”
The group supports gun training and licensing teachers who want to be armed and it believes school administrators should not be allowed to limit who and how many people can carry weapons at a school, Burkhardt said.
Arming teachers can work because a school employee doesn’t have to be an expert shooter, they just have to be able to defend themselves, Lamar Henry, the group’s vice president, said.
“It takes a willingness to act,” he said.
The Santa Fe school district was not involved in planning the event, spokeswoman Patti Hanssard said in an email Tuesday. She did not answer a question about the district’s stance on the event.