The Texas Legislature sent the Protection of Texas Children Act to Gov. Rick Perry’s desk today. If Perry signs it, the state could train teachers as marshals as send them into public school classrooms with loaded guns. The bill passed the state Senate with an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 28 to 3.
“We’ve created a new class of law enforcement officers here in Texas to protect our kids in a moment of crisis,” said State Rep. Jason Villalba (R). The “moment of crisis” he is referring to is the Sandy Hook shooting tragedy where 20 children and six adult staff members were murdered by a crazed gunman.
The bill takes extreme caution to ensure that any teacher who carries a firearm will be well trained and will follow strict safety measures. Teachers would have to undergo “80 hours of training, deep psychological profiles, training in areas of firearms, legal and emergency situations and we are going to make sure they can protect our kids in that moment.”
Additionally, teachers won’t be able to walk around classrooms with a gun strapped to their hips where any student could reach out and grab it. Guns would have to be stored “within immediate reach” in a locked gun safe.
This bill has sparked controversy – even gun rights advocates can’t agree over the idea of teachers packing heat in the classroom. Gale Fallon, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers and a gun owner, asked, “Our classrooms aren’t set up where there is a secure place to keep a weapon so if that teacher is teaching where is the gun?” She also argued that the only people who should be allowed to carry guns in schools are commissioned police officers.
The police agree with here there. Law enforcement officials warned that armed teachers might be at risk of being shot by police during emergency situations.
Ultimately, Gov. Rick Perry has the final say. His signature could send guns into classrooms all across Texas, regardless of how unhappy it makes gun control advocates, teachers, and police officers.