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Main story: Texas students are being taught to fight back if a gunman invades their classroom
388112 05: Three unidentified Columbine High School students look at the 13 crosses memorializing those killed at their school 2 years ago after a memorial service April 20, 2001 in Littleton, CO. Today marked the second anniversary of the shooting that took the lives of a teacher and twelve students. (Photo by Michael Smith/Newsmakers)
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By JEFF CARLTON
BURLESON, Texas--Youngsters in a suburban Fort Worth school district are being taught not to sit there like good boys and girls with their hands folded.
In the wake of recent school tragedies, students are being told that if a gunman invades the classroom, they're to rush him and hit him with everything they've got, including books, pencils, legs and arms.
"Getting under desks and praying for rescue from professionals is not a recipe for success," said Robin Browne, a major in the British Army reserve and an instructor for Response Options, the company providing the training to the Burleson schools.
That kind of fight-back advice is all but unheard of among schools, and some fear it will get children killed.
But school officials in Burleson said they are drawing on the lessons learned from a string of disasters such as Columbine in 1999 and the recent Amish schoolhouse attack in Pennsylvania.
The school system in this working-class suburb of about 26,000 is believed to be the first in the nation to train all its teachers and students to fight back, Browne said.
At Burleson, which has 10 schools and about 8,500 students, the training covers various emergencies, such as tornadoes, fires and situations where first aid is required. Among the lessons: Use a belt as a sling for broken bones--and shoelaces make good tourniquets.
Students are also instructed not to comply with a gunman's orders, and to take him down.
Browne recommends students and teachers "react immediately to the sight of a gun by picking up anything and everything and throwing it at the head and body of the attacker and making as much noise as possible. Go toward him as fast as [they] can and bring them down."
Response Options trains students and teachers to "lock onto the attacker's limbs and use their body weight," Browne said. Everyday classroom objects, such as paperbacks and pencils, can become weapons.
"We show them they can win," he said. "The fact that someone walks into a classroom with a gun does not make them a god. Five or six seventh-grade kids and a 95-pound art teacher can basically challenge, bring down and immobilize a 200-pound man with a gun."