At 9:00 am tomorrow morning, the Senate Education Committee will hear three reckless bills that would expand allow more teachers and other school staff to be armed in schools:
SB 244 would increase the number of school marshals that a school can appoint from one per 200 students — or one per building — to an unlimited number.
Current law requires school marshals who have regular contact with students to store guns in locked safes. SB 243 and SB 406 would gut this standard and allow them to carry guns on their person.
Texas’ School Marshal Program allows teachers and other school staff to be armed, despite the fact that there is no evidence indicating that arming teachers makes schools safer. In fact, research shows that the presence of a gun increases the risk posed to children and complicates any law enforcement response to active shooter situations.
Increasing the number of guns in schools also increases the risk of unintentional shootings and guns falling into the wrong hands. In Northern California, a student was injured by bullet fragments when a teacher unintentionally discharged a loaded firearm during a public safety class. And in Detroit, a student found a loaded gun in a school bathroom stall after a county sheriff unintentionally left it behind. To avoid situations like these, responsible storage must be a cornerstone of any effort to prevent gun violence in schools.
Last month, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association joined Everytown in opposition to proposals to arm teachers. The organizations released a report of recommended school safety practices that approach school gun violence from all angles.
Instead of risky proposals that increase the number of guns in schools, Texas lawmakers should consider policies that would keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them, like Red Flag laws. Red Flag laws empower law enforcement and family members to work with a court to temporarily restrict someone’s access to guns when they are a threat to themselves or others. Red Flag laws fill a critical gap in current law and give law enforcement the ability to act on warning signs that often preclude incidents of gun violence, like mass shootings.
Volunteers with Moms Demand Action will testify against the bills and be available for interviews. More information on the dangers of arming teachers is available here, and information on Red Flag laws is available here. If you’d like to learn more about these dangerous bills, please don’t hesitate to reach out.