Sunday, April 14, 2013

Texas Arming Teachers: Legislative Hurdles

Before Texas can start arming teachers, there are still some legislative hoops to jump through and hurdles to navigate.

On Monday April 15, 2013's Senate Intent calender is SB 17, which mandates special safety training for school employees in order for them to carry concealed firearms. The idea is districts, private schools, and open-enrollment charter schools will have the option to allow select teachers to do so.

The criteria to be among the select group is for the school employee (teacher, administrator, janitor, etc) to already have a current concealed carry license with a current favorable background screening. Most school employees have similar background screenings conducted regularly in order to allow them to teach in the first place. So, those with concealed handgun permits would have double the screening.

The bill then mandates that those selected would require special safety, escalation of force, and use of force training as well as additional marksmanship training. That training would be necessary for any uniformed security personnel as well.

Any school that does not have full-time armed security or police officers guarding the school will be allowed to send two employees to the Department of Public Safety's training program at state expense. Any additional personnel will be at the cost of the district, school, or individual. There is no limit to the maximum number of trained personnel who can work at the school. This, of course, is still restricted by the employees' ability to meet the eligibility criteria.

The requirements for advanced situational and marksmanship training are common-sense measures. Adding the criteria that those eligible must already have concealed carry licenses is as well. There are many education and indoctrination professionals who oppose Second Amendment protections. Most of them have little to no experience in firearms or firearms safety. Furthermore, most of them have phobias concerning firearms. It is prudent to not arm a school worker who is more likely to shoot their own foot off in a crisis, or worse, instead of stopping an attacker.


A BILL TO BE ENTITLED 
AN ACT 
relating to the training in school safety of certain employees of a school district or an open-enrollment charter school authorized to carry a concealed handgun on school premises. 
       BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS: 
       SECTION 1.  Chapter 37, Education Code, is amended by adding 
Subchapter J to read as follows: 
SUBCHAPTER J. SAFETY TRAINING FOR CERTAIN EMPLOYEES 
       Sec. 37.314  DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY TRAINING PROGRAM FOR DISTRICT OR OPEN-ENROLLMENT CHARTER SCHOOL EMPLOYEES LICENSED TO CARRY A CONCEALED HANDGUN. 
(a) The Department of Public Safety shall establish and maintain a training program in school safety and the protection of students for employees of a school district or an open-enrollment charter school who hold a license to carry a concealed handgun issued under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code, and who are authorized to carry a concealed handgun under Section 46.03(a)(1), Penal Code, and selected by the board of trustees of a school district or the governing body of an open-enrollment charter school to attend the training program. 
       (b)  Each school year, the Department of Public Safety shall provide the training program under Subsection (a) at no charge for two employees at a school campus that does not have security personnel or a commissioned peace officer assigned full-time to the school campus. 
       (c)  The Department of Public Safety may provide the training program under Subsection (a) to school employees in addition to those attending the training under Subsection (b) on payment of a fee by the school district or open-enrollment charter school employing the employee. 
       (d)  This subchapter does not waive any liability or immunity of a school district or an open-enrollment charter school or The Department of Public Safety or of an officer or employee of the district or charter school or the Department of Public Safety. This section does not create any liability for or a cause of action against a school district or an open-enrollment charter school or The Department of Public Safety or an officer or employee of the district or charter school or The Department of Public Safety. 
       SECTION 2.  The Department of Public Safety is required to implement Section 37.314, Education Code, as added by this Act, only if the legislature appropriates money specifically for that purpose. If the legislature does not appropriate money specifically for that purpose, The Department of Public Safety may, but is not required to, implement Section 37.314, Education Code, as added by this Act, using other appropriations available for that purpose.



A similar, more detailed bill was introduced to the State House. As of March 14, 2013, HB 1896 is left "pending" in committee. That means the committee has no intent to bring it to a floor vote, even if the bill would likely pass. Other key legislation that would restore Second Amendment protections also remain pending, unless petitions and constituent contact pushes the committee and House to act.

SB 17, however, will likely come to a Senate floor vote sometime this week. The bill is rather popular among conservative parents who wish to see their children protected. Many believe that had one of the slain teachers or the school janitor at Sandy Hook Elementary been armed, Adam Lanza would not have harmed or killed as many people as he did.