Consider this a follow up to today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, where we discussed armed school staff with FASTER Colorado’s Laura Carno. According to the school safety advocate, interest in the program is soaring in Colorado in the wake of the Covenant School shootings in Nashville, but clearly the strategy is growing in popularity in other states as well.
Texas already allows for school districts to put armed staff members in place through either the School Marshal or Guardian programs, but a bill that sailed through the state House this week would make an armed response mandatory on every public school campus in the state.
House Bill 3 by Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, would require any armed officer or employee who is placed in a school to complete school safety-specific handgun instruction training. The bill would also require at least one annual intruder detection audit in each district, and it calls for local law enforcement in rural counties to meet with school district officials about safety.
HB 3, which the House passed by a 119-25 vote, would provide districts with at least $100 per student and $15,000 per campus to maintain and improve school safety.
“At the end of the day, teachers, students and their families deserve safe classrooms, and school administrators need the support of the state and cooperation of law enforcement to make those safe classrooms a reality,” Burrows said.
The handful of legislators who opposed the measure brought nothing but anti-gun talking points to the debate, which failed to persuade the bipartisan majority that signed off on HB 3.
Rep. Vikki Goodwin, D-Austin, worried there aren’t enough specifications in the bills about the type of training campus employees would need to complete before being allowed to carry guns in schools.
“How are we going to make sure that those people who are armed on school campuses are making them safer, not making them more dangerous?” Goodwin asked.
Still others were alarmed that the bills would open the door for any district employee, including teachers, to carry guns in schools. HB 3 requires each school to have at least one armed officer or employee, and that person would need to undergo training.
Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos, D-Richardson, offered an amendment Monday that would have narrowed the type of employees who could carry a weapon in schools, but that proposal was shot down.
“Expecting to confront and neutralize an active shooter is not realistic, and frankly (it’s) absurd,” Ramos said. “Putting in a teacher in a position to possibly have to shoot their own student, this is definitely incredible that we’re even having this conversation today.”
Again, Texas already has two different programs that allow for armed school staff on campus, so it’s not like lawmakers are having to re-invent the wheel here. And none of the dozens of districts where the School Marshal or Guardian programs are already in place have seen issues with training or a lack of volunteers.
As for Ramos’s assertion that it’s “absurd” to think that a teacher or staff member could confront or neutralize an active shooter, I’d argue it’s even more absurd (and dangerous) to allow an armed threat on campus to go unchecked for even ten or fifteen minutes while waiting for police to arrive. Sadly, as Uvalde showed us, even when officers are present they may not engage the threat. Having an armed school staffer doesn’t guarantee a faster response, but if definitely increases the odds that an armed attacker will be met with deadly force within seconds, not minutes.
I don’t think any teacher or staffer wants to be in a position where they would have to shoot their own student, but if it meant saving the lives of the other kids in their classroom I think that’s a burden they’d shoulder… especially given the alternative.
The presence of these armed staffers will also make schools harder targets, which will likely lead to fewer targeted attacks on campus to begin with. Most of these killers are cowards who are looking for a slaughter, not a gun fight. The Covenant School shooter in Nashville reportedly picked their target in part because they were concerned about security at another potential location, and if potential school shooters know that they’re probably going to be met with a near instantaneous armed response that may very well cause them to shift their plans or abandon them altogether. HB 3 is a big step in the right direction, and I hope that it’s received with just as much support by the Texas Senate in the days ahead.