Guns in Schools: The Protection of Texas Children Act

GunandschoolzoneSchool shootings are a hot topic nationwide.  Since Columbine, Virginia Tech, and most recently, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, controversy surrounds the issue of how best to prevent school shootings.  To address this, in May of this year, House Bill 1009, the Protection of Texas Children Act, was passed by the Senate.

Representative Jason Villalba (Republican-Dallas), drafted the bill, and Governor Rick Perry signed it into law this June. The legislation creates a new subset of law enforcement officers, called School Marshals.  These marshals will function similar to federal air marshals, with only school administrators and the Texas Department of Public Safety knowing the identity.  The marshals are intended to serve as the last line of defense should an armed attacker threaten the lives of children in public schools.

According to Villalba, “[t]his legislation provides school districts with a cost-effective school security option that includes robust training tailored to protect children in schools during an active shooter situation… passage of the School Marshal plan will provide a practical, thoughtful, and responsible school security option for all Texas school districts.”  The Representative went on to elaborate that the marshal could be any school worker, such as, a teacher, a principal, a coach, or even a custodian.

Importantly, the School Marshal program will be optional and not mandated by the state which is some good news for opponents of the program.  School Marshal training will include mental health evaluation, active shooter and emergency situation training, and firearms proficiency requirements, in each case requiring 80 hours of classroom and simulation modules.  Re-certification will be required on a biannual basis.

Interestingly, the cost of training and certification will be paid by the School Marshal, unless funded by grant money.

One has to wonder though:

  • If the training to be a marshal will be as rigorous as promised, won’t the identity of the marshals be obvious?
  • Do we really trust our educators to take on the role of the police?
  • No matter how intense the training, do we really want guns in our schools?
Lisa Steffek

About Lisa Steffek

Lisa Steffek is a third year student at the University of Houston Law Center. Lisa completed her Bachelors, Masters and Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Texas in Human Development and Family Sciences. As an undergraduate, Lisa worked as a research assistant studying child attachment. Lisa also worked for several years at The Settlement Home, a residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed adolescent females. Most of the girls at The Settlement Home had been removed from their homes by Child Protective Services, and Lisa worked with the girls to teach them life-skills and provided psychological treatment to prepare them for adulthood and the transition to foster homes. Lisa also worked for six years in various academic capacities at the University of Texas, including an undergraduate teaching assistant, graduate research assistant, and undergraduate writing consultant. Lisa has presented papers regarding human development at various academic conferences in the states and abroad, and has had her writing published in an international, academic journal.

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