About 400 students in the public school system of Okay, Oklahoma will now be protected by armed staff. The school district began advocating for armed staff based on HB 2014, the Special Reserve School Resource Officer Act.

Superintendent Charles McMahan spoke exclusively with News On 6, saying small school districts like his do not have the luxury of having campus police officers or leaving student’s safety to local law enforcement. Specifically, the Wagoner County Sheriff’s department which employs only one deputy to protect and serve the 733 residents of Okay.

“If something were to ever happen and I didn’t try to defend my kids, I couldn’t live with that,” McMahan says. “That’s kind of why we put this in place.”

Okay school campuses have posted four brand-new signs which read, “Please be aware that certain staff members at Okay Public Schools can be legally armed and may use whatever force is necessary to protect our students.”

“Hopefully, that will never take place,” he says. “But if it saves a life, it saves a life.”

This isn’t the first school district to recognize the need to protect their students’ safety with more than a Gun-Free School Zone Sign. In the 10 years since teachers have been allowed to carry guns in Utah, no fatal K-12 school shootings have occurred.

In 2013 more than 80 bills were introduced in at least 33 states related to arming teachers or school staff, but only Alabama, Kansas, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas enacted laws affecting public schools, according to a report by the Council of State Governments.

The Outdoor Channel’s in-depth documentary Safe Haven hosted by Katie Pavlich was an eye-opening look into just how ineffective gun-free zones really are.

Congressman Thomas Massey (R–KY) introduced a comprehensive plan with H.R. 86, the Safe Students Actwhich would effectively repeal the Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1990. Massey’s H.R. 86 would undo the GFSZA, which currently makes it “unlawful for any individual knowingly to possess a firearm at a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is a school zone.”

“Gun-free school zones are ineffective.” says Rep. Massey, “They make people less safe by inviting criminals into target rich, no-risk environments. Gun-free zones prevent law abiding citizens from protecting themselves and create vulnerable populations that are targeted by criminals.”

Massey also said, “A bigger federal government can’t solve this problem. Weapons bans and gun-free zones are unconstitutional. They do not and cannot prevent criminals or the mentally ill from committing acts of violence, but they often prevent victims of such violence from protecting themselves.”

Until laws are passed to repeal gun-free school zones, I applaud people like Superintendent Charles McMahan who are working to ensure students’ safety and deter potential shooters from freely being able to commit a school shooting unchallenged.

So what are you doing in your area to ensure parents, teachers, and staff are able to carry for their protection and the protection of their students?