Archives > Allen American > News
House committee hears school gun proposal
By Conner Hammett, firstname.lastname@example.org
A Dallas state legislator has asked a House committee to approve a bill that would allow school districts to designate volunteering school employees as armed "school marshals."
Freshman Rep. Jason Villalba (R--Dallas) told the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee Thursday that HB 1009, or the Protection of Texas Children Act, would not be a "teacher carry bill," but the creation of a new law enforcement position in the state of Texas.
Under the bill, participating school districts could allow one teacher or administrator per campus of 400 students or less to receive 80 hours of training from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officers to keep a firearm under lock-and-key for use in the event of an armed attacker.
Villalba said while many school districts already have School Resource Officers or, in some cases, dedicated police departments, the cost has become more prohibitive in recent years.
"We anticipate that school districts will pick up this tab, but it's not required by law. It's only at their discretion," he said, adding the state will not offer any funding to the program.
Thirty minutes of testimony followed Villalba's presentation to the committee. Ramiro Canales, speaking on behalf of the Texas Association of School Administrators, applauded the bill and the ability of school districts to opt in our out of participating.
"We understand this is a very sensitive and emotional issue, and teachers want to do what's best for their children, and this is only one of the tools they can use to do so," he said.
Reid King, a parent of six and former high school teacher, questioned the need for the bill and the associated costs and expressed a preference for allowing concealed handgun-licensed teachers to bring their weapons to school, an option some school districts in Texas have already undertaken.
"We do not need to create an additional position with related expenses to protect our schools," he said. "Law enforcement currently has a presence on high school campuses. What is needed is to allow teachers who currently hold a license to protect themselves and their students from harm."
Ted Melina Raab, speaking on behalf of the Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, said a survey of 2,000 of the chapter's members showed 65 percent preferred law enforcement and school security officers bear the responsibility of responding to a possible school attack.
"The basic idea here is that any guns on campus should be in the hands of fully trained law enforcement officers -- not teachers, not people who are partially trained to do it," he said, adding the bill gave the "appearance of security at a much lower cost."
Charley Wilkison, speaking for the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas, said his organization reluctantly came to the conclusion to support the bill since the organization would rather see a licensed peace officer in every school.
"If we're not going to have a police officer in every school, as we probably need, then we'd prefer a CHL holder have that 80 hours," he said.
Villalba closed by stressing the thoroughness of the research that went into the bill, ranging from talking to parents and teachers to examining existing studies.
"The time for action is now, and gentlemen, we're going to lead in the nation in what we're going to do in Texas to protect our children," he said.
The bill is currently pending in the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee.
In no way do they represent the view of Starlocalnews.com
Only your Member ID will be posted with the comments.
Become a Registered User