School safety is the concern of staff, students and parents. Since last year’s Uvalde tragedy, Texas school districts have made efforts to ensure a safe return to school. On January 5, a new bill was filed in Austin to allow concealed carry of handguns on school campuses.
Senate Bill 354, if approved, will go into effect on September 1, 2023 and would prohibit school districts from enacting rules to prevent licensed employees from carrying concealed weapons on school property.
Texas law currently allows school districts to choose between the “Texas School Guardians Program” created in 2009, which allows some teachers to carry guns on school property, and the “School Marshals Program” established after the 2013 Sandy Hook Massacre. , which allows licensed employees to volunteer to carry guns as school guards.
Senator Bob Hall explained in an official statement that the bill is part of a legislative package aimed at keeping schools and borders safe. “Senate Bill 354, Campus Carry, will simply allow law-abiding citizens with a license to wear to schools in places that are currently prohibited, such as inside school buildings or on the grounds or buildings where school-sponsored events are held. “It would be a major measure to ban gun-free zones on school grounds, which act as magnets for those who desire violence against our children and educators,” Senator Hall said.
As previously mentioned Local Profile, a month ago, the Keller ISD School Board approved a policy that would allow teachers and staff to carry concealed firearms on school campuses as part of the school guardian program. According to KHOU 11, other schools across the state are also stepping up safety measures after the Texas Education Agency encouraged all schools in Texas to use panic button technology.
While the policy recommended by TEA might be better welcomed by teachers, Bill 354 is already being challenged by staff, teacher unions and faculty alike.
The Texas Tech University Faculty Senate quickly drafted a resolution with a 95% “yes” vote stating “The Faculty Senate believes we are opposed to a law currently in the Texas Legislature, Senate Bill 354, which addresses the concealed carry of handguns. . university campuses in Texas.
This was announced by Rena Honea, President of the Dallas Education Workers Union Alliance-AFT. Dallas Observer that a survey conducted among the organization’s specialists showed that 77% of the teachers surveyed do not feel safe with weapons on school grounds. “Teachers cannot be expected to become highly trained law enforcement officers and use weapons in crisis situations without endangering students or themselves,” Honea said.
Similarly, Casey Boland, Richardson’s ISD teacher, recounted Dallas Observer that human error goes a long way to explaining why teachers and staff find arming schools dangerous. “Theft, negligence, etc. are all too likely, and unless the teacher also has combat or SWAT experience, they are not authorized to use a weapon in an active shooter situation,” Boland said. “I am more than suspicious of anyone who thinks that a concealed carry license equates to that level of experience.”