Gun event advertisment

A Facebook advertisement promotes a pro-gun rally at Runge Park in Santa Fe on June 23.


A gun rights group plans a political event in a Santa Fe park later this month during which members will call for more public school employees to be armed, the organization’s president said.

The group, called This is Texas Freedom Force, plans the “Carry For Our Kids” event for June 23 at Runge Park, a small public park about 2 miles from Santa Fe High School.

Brandon Burkhardt, the group’s president, Tuesday said Texas school districts should allow more of their employees to be armed in case of school shootings.

“The Second Amendment is covered for everybody to carry arms,” Burkhardt said. “Any teacher that wants to carry a gun should be able to.”

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.

Burkhardt said he didn’t want to call the event in Santa Fe a rally. The aim was to have a conversation about gun rights, he said.

Group leaders told members they don’t need to bring “full battle rattle” to the Santa Fe event. The phrase refers to body armor and ammunition members carry when they feel threatened by other groups.

Burkhardt said he expected some people to carry sidearms at the event, but didn’t think many would bring rifles as they have to other events.

“We want people to be able to feel comfortable at the event,” he said

Galveston County’s parks department, which manages Runge Park, confirmed the group had received a permit to hold an event June 23.

This would be the first political event planned in Santa Fe since a May 18 shooting at Santa Fe High School that left 10 people dead and 13 others injured.

Burkhardt said he was convinced that had teachers in Santa Fe and at other school shootings been armed, they could have prevented some people from being killed.

While the group supports training and licensing teachers who want to be armed, Burkhardt said school administrators shouldn’t be allowed to limit who and how many people can carry weapons at a school.

“We should do away from the gun-free zones altogether,” he said.

Concealed weapons generally are prohibited from public school campuses, but Texas laws sanction two programs through which school districts can appoint, train and allow staff members to be armed.

After the shooting, the Santa Fe ISD school board President J.R. “Rusty” Norman told the Washington Post the district had approved a plan to start arming teachers. District officials have declined to speak about that effort since then, however.

The group’s social media page advertises “big name speakers” at the event. Texas Republican Party Chairman James Dickey is listed as a possible attendee, but a party spokesman said Dickey would be traveling out of the country during the event.

No Santa Fe city or school officials are listed as scheduled to speak at the event. The school district is not involved in planning the event, spokeswoman Patti Hanssard said in an email Tuesday. She did not answer a question about the district’s thoughts on the event.

Neither Santa Fe Mayor Jason Tabor nor Norman returned phone calls seeking comment Tuesday.

Most events held in Santa Fe since the shooting have focused on fundraising for victims and emotional support.

Three days after the shooting, the gun control group March For Our Lives announced its representatives would not publicly discuss the Santa Fe shooting, and encouraged local residents to share their own thoughts and opinions with the media.

The Houston chapter of March For Our Lives later held an event with some Santa Fe High School students in Houston. At that event, the students called for changes in gun storage requirements and better access to mental health care.

March for Our Lives’ national platform calls for gun law changes such as a comprehensive ban on AR-15 style weapons.

Burkhardt said he thought Santa Fe residents would welcome the event. Among other things, the event will feature a raffle for a license-to-carry course. Proceeds of the raffle will go toward paying for weapons training for a Santa Fe-area teacher, he said.

“We’re coming to have a conversation,” he said. “It is very special to us.”

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; or on Twitter @johnwferguson.


(21) comments

Mike Meador

Weatherford ISD unanimously approved on Concealed Carry Program for staff. Weatherford ISD has 4329 students.

Diane Turski

I suspect this group is hoping for some kind of confrontation. My advice is to ignore them and let them march around by themselves.

Carlos Ponce

"My advice is to ignore them and let them march around by themselves.
Agreed. I would have phrased that differently. Let them exercise their Constitutional rights. They will be at Runge Park, not Highway 6. Santa Fe and Galveston had had "Right to openly Carry" marches in the past. No problems.
Although not exactly the same, it is similar in nature.
"Riflemen march downtown, support open-carry laws"
"Duo marches on seawall in support of open carry laws"
"Police checked out the situation and found the men weren’t breaking any laws, police Lt. Michael Gray said."
"Campus carry quietly begins at community colleges"
Note: In the past at Santa Fe High School, students would have hunting rifles on their truck gun racks or in their car trunk on campus. Santa Fe Principal Dean Evans had a firearm on campus in the 1960s and 70s.

Jim Forsythe

I hope you are not suggesting that students have hunting rifles in their truck gun racks or in their car trunk on campus. This is not the 1960s and 70s,and doing so may end with a student going to jail.

George Croix

Jim, question:
What is the biggest difference on this subject in 2018 vs in the 60's/70's?
Aside from the changes in living areas and more people in urban or semi-urban population areas with less growing-up-exposure to firearms, is it not that it's now against the law for citizens to have a firearm in a 'gun free zone'?
Because it's no different at all nowadays from those days that the person with the firearm is the one who decides whether to misuse it or matter how much anyone wants to claim otherwise.
How've those 'gun free zones' worked so far to keep a nutcase from shooting others?

I don't advocate anyone carry a rifle in a window rack, if for no other reason than it invites criminals. But, how one in a locked compartmentt and owned by an honest and capable citizen is any danger to anybody is a mystery to me.

Jim Forsythe

'But, how one in a locked compartmentt and owned by an honest capable citizen is any danger to anybody is a mystery to me" It's against the law, was all I was stating.
"How've those 'gun free zones' worked so far to keep a nutcase from shooting others?" One book I read , JFK said something like, if someone wants to kill a President , they will find a way, he was right.
If gun free zones are a bad idea, is a gun free zone around a USA President wrong?
If we did not have gun free zones at the school, what would stop people from walking up and down outside a school with a gun with no legal way to make them stop ?
Gun free zones will not stop someone that wants to do bad. But gives another charge against someone that brings a gun into a school zone , that's does not have the right to.
George, you and I have said, harden the outside of the schools and keep the bad out.
If that is done , would you want anyone the goes into a school to also have a gun. Or just the one's that are id as the ones that should have a gun inside? Is that not a gun free zone, if we keep some out with guns?

George Croix

I'm all for LTC holders being allowed to carry everywhere. That's unlikley to happen, though, because so many talk one thing then do another - like judges or politicians who oppose carry laws but are surrounded by armed security themselves.
I understand that some places might not be against it in principal but want to restrict carry to their employees (such as...teachers...) for insurance or whatever business related reason...I don't agree, but DO understand that....
That said, I'd ask anyone similary advocating for lawful LTC holders to be able to do so to remember that the goal is to win over people to our point of view, or at least lower their discomfort level.
That can be accomplished some by word but primarily by example.
Most of those people are frightened or repulsed or both by firearms and/or fear of those carrying them.
There's NOTHING to be gained by putting your 'rights' ahead of your common sense when the goal at hand is to show responsible and level headed and unintimidating firearms carry and user courtesy and respect for others.
All it takes is one lowest common denominator to make an entire group look bad, when they are not.
THINK and do what's right to plead your case rather than just what you have a right to do.

Steve Fouga

Wise counsel, George. "Full battle rattle." Good grief. At least they decided NOT to bring it, so good on 'em.

George Croix

You could be right about that, Ms. Turski.
And, we KNOW the 'Resistance' hopes for confrontations, so I'd suggest we ignore that bunch, too ....[beam][beam][beam][beam]

Diane Turski

I am the Resistance! And I am advocating for common sense passive resistance in this instance! This is a modern day example of "What if they had a war and nobody came?"

George Croix

I know you are, Ms. Turski, and that's your choice, along with wishes like no more war....a first time ever since not long after Man first found another use for the jawbone of a donkey.....
You may be right...if the snowflakes and safe spacers take over, everybody will be too scared to fight, or in hiding and can't be found....[beam][beam][beam]

Gary Miller

Why do we let government make decisions about things the BILL OF RIGHTS says WE the people can do or say? Local law enforcement should be the highest level of government making any decisions on BILL OF RIGHTS issues.

George Croix

Perhaps, Gary, sometimes, because what we have a right to do isn't always the right thing to do.

George Croix

OK. It's against the law on school not so years ago...the 60's/70's.
If someone is willing to die making an effort to do something, and has the money and time to spend in preparation, they will nearly always succeed, as nobody is safe everywhere.
You are conflating. There are no Secret Service guards inside a school or bank or wherever else NORMAL daily area access 'gun free zones' are located. But, since you decided to mention it anyway, Oswald (or whomever) didn't give a flip about no guns when a President is around....Neither did John Hinkley, Jr.
Who CARES about 'another charge' when our kids have already been shot!!!??? Whether the killer gets another 2 or 3 years in jail is no comfort, and if given the needle, he won't be one bit more dead...
How about of Joe Armed Citizen killed the would-be killer, and NO or fewer kids were hurt, so NO charges, extra or otherwise, would be needed - that be better??
But, you'd HAVE that hardening, wouldn't you, Jim, with armed (hopefully capable) personnel watching all. Keeping bad guys away from the kids in the first place.
My answer is yes, I'd prefer to be able to exercise anywhere what the law allows me to do most places, because as a law abiding and honest citizen I am not a threat to children or any other person not engaged in or trying to commit a crime, and personally I don't have much desire to be waiting for someone to show up to help while in immediate danger. But, it would not be my would be the school/business/whatever's call, same as now. So, my question stands, how have 'gun free zones' worked so far to PREVENT shootings? There HAVE been a couple of cases reported, which means likely more but not reported, where armed citizens prevented deaths or mitigated the count....
But, too many people have been taught to fear firearms, and not fear people. Or worse, to believe the simplistic and always to date failing 'fixes' will work if we just try them again, or pretend someone willing to kill another human in cold blood cares about the dam) laws and rules....or the dumbest of all, some politician will protect the kids.

Jim Forsythe

Just as one is not allowed to have a gun in the area a President is in, or will be. No one should have a gun in a school free zone. The exception is the one's that are OK to have a gun in the area.
Just as I said, JFK and other Presidents understand, that if a person is willing, no one is safe.
Should our children be as safe at school, as the President is in his job?
Gun free penalty's are for the one's that do not succeed, not for the one's that has already shot people.
As far as the Joe Armed Citizen being part of the protection plan, it would be ok, as long as they are required to have the same amount of training as school staff needs (80 hours in Texas ).
"Texas school districts can choose between two plans — the Guardian Plan and the School Marshal Plan — to authorize employees to carry a firearm on school property. Debate around arming teachers and staff has surged in response to the recent school shootings"
Probably these numbers will increased
"Those 172 school districts represent about 17 percent of the 1,023 independent school districts in Texas, according to the Texas Education Agency. About 15 percent of all ISDs have a police department and about 24 percent employ school resource officers, according to the association's analysis. " theses numbers are from May 30, 2018

Carlos Ponce

"No one should have a gun in a school free zone." Somebody forgot to tell Dimitrios Pagortziz. But more than likely, he knew.... and he used that to his advantage until someone with a gun showed up to stop him.

Jim Forsythe

Nobody forgot to tell Dimitrios Pagortziz. He did not follow the law. Just as any law, if you are willing to pay the price ,it will not stop someone from doing the wrong thing. As it is a Federal law , I do not think it will be repealed anytime soon.
Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990
The Gun-Free School Zones Act is an act of the U.S. Congress prohibiting any unauthorized individual from knowingly possessing a loaded or unsecured firearm at a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is a school zone as defined by 18 U.S.C. § 921a. The law applies to public, private, and parochial elementary schools and high schools, and to non-private property within 1000 feet of them. It provides that the states and their political subdivisions may issue licenses that exempt the licensed individuals from the prohibition. (Whoever violates the Act shall be fined not more than $5,000, imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both.)

Carlos Ponce

Let me repeat: "But more than likely, he knew.... and he used that to his advantage until someone with a gun showed up to stop him."

Carlos Ponce

In a teaching seminar I disclosed I had taught in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s in public schools. Someone asked, "How have the student's changed over the years?" My reply, "Students are the same. They will push the envelope to get away with whatever they can. It's the parents who have changed."


Yes!! You are correct! And parents don’t want to admit their failure when it comes to the children. They let phones, video games, social media, etc. raise their own children!! It’s pathetic!

George Croix

"As far as the Joe Armed Citizen being part of the protection plan, it would be ok, as long as they are required to have the same amount of training as school staff needs (80 hours in Texas ).'

Jim, I didn't say make Joe part of any protection PLAN.
I advocate for letting a lawfully permitted and licensed Joe carry wherever the heck he wants to or is allowed to, and in so doing, Joe is in a position to, if something bad happens, respond, if he will.
No Joes around, no response.
The school staff and employees, if allowed, would have to abide by whatever the schools set down, but a legally armed visitor to a NON 'gun free zone' would not need an Education Dept. 80 hour training course for teachers and staff to simply try to protect his own life or that of others, same as one in WalMart does not need to learn how to stock merchandise or work a cash register.
Billy Bad Guy would only see people, and if not in a 'gun free zone', he'd have zero idea whether said people standing or walking around could shoot back at him or not when he went shooter. Even better, as one poster suggested, put up signs declaring the campus has armed personnel and are authorized to return fire at will when threatened with deadly force!
Of course not. Nothing is perfect, but the usual answers to do more irrelevant to actual on-site safety stuff is an exercise in futility at best and idiocy at worst.
WOULD Joe respond if legally armed on site and someone started shooting?
I dunno...he sure as heck could not do so if NOT armed.
Fact is, NOBODY knows how they'll react to any danger until they are faced with it.
I can THINK what I'd do, and expect myself to do it, but that's not 100% until it's actually done...but a better bet than zero chance.
I, personally, have never had anybody shoot at me. I'm untried on that. I CAN shoot pretty much as good as and better than most people I know, but the targets are not shooting back. My only experience with IDLH danger is to make inert atmosphere vessel entires, to run into the middle of refinery fires and process units blowing up or might-be-about-to a few hundred times, made/assited in a handful of bad wreck car on fire rescues, and to occassionally cross my wife.... [beam][beam]).
I might not do well, but would hope that, having the ability and the tools to do so, and an ingrained desire to help those who need help, I'd do the right thing.
Unarmed, I'd just be another target.....

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