Not only does Gov. Greg Abbott want to arm more teachers and other school employees, he also wants to unlock their guns during the school day. This is one provision of the governor’s proposal to expand the voluntary “school marshal” program that allows schools to designate a limited number of teachers and other employees to have firearms at school.
At last count, about 170 school districts, many in rural areas, participate.
Under current law, however, guns brought to school by teachers or other employees who have direct contact with students have to be kept locked up, unless there is a life-threatening emergency. If the Legislature goes along with Abbott’s new plan, the locks would be removed.
The governor apparently believes that if you are going to arm teachers or principals to confront armed intruders, it makes no sense to require those teachers or principals or whoever to waste precious minutes trying to unlock a drawer or a safe after mayhem already has erupted.
Abbott would rather take a chance with the very real dangers – accidental discharges, thefts, etc — that unlocked firearms in classrooms, gyms, cafeterias or elsewhere on school campuses would pose for students and school employees each and every school day.
But how many parents really want to send their children to a school where there may be a pistol – either loaded or with ammunition stored nearby — in an unlocked classroom drawer?
TSTA opposes arming more teachers or other school employees because, even with firearms training, most would be no match for a heavily armed intruder who has planned his attack, has the element of surprise, is probably suicidal and is determined to kill.
As TSTA President Noel Candelaria said this week in response to Abbott’s proposal, “Teachers are trained to teach and to nurture, not double up as security guards.”
In a recent national survey, 82 percent of educators told the National Education Association they will not take guns to school because they don’t believe that is the answer to gun violence.
TSTA supports the hiring of more professionally trained, fulltime security guards for school campuses and strengthening school facilities against intruders, which the governor also has proposed. TSTA also supports the governor’s call for increased mental health services and other steps to identify students at risk of hurting others. TSTA also believes the state should provide more funding to pay for all these proposals, an issue that the governor’s plan doesn’t fully address.
Abbott apparently is thin-skinned about TSTA’s opposition to arming teachers. In a tweet yesterday, he accused TSTA of not reading his plan before criticizing it. He said he doesn’t “mandate” arming teachers. We read his plan, and we know he doesn’t “mandate” more guns for teachers, but he certainly has proposed it. And it is a bad idea.