HOUSTON — One idea being talked about again in the wake of the mass shooting in Uvalde is allowing teachers to arm themselves in the classroom. But it’s already an option here in our state; an option few districts actually take advantage of.
Teachers armed with their voices protested outside U.S. Senator Ted Cruz’s office in Austin Tuesday.
“Teachers absolutely are against being armed or playing the part of the police officer on campus,” said Zeph Capo with American Federation of Teachers.
They sent a message to Sen. Cruz, making sure that after the tragedy in Uvalde that their opinions are heard.
“Frankly, it’s too dangerous of a scenario to expect that our teachers are going to have the time or the energy, or the funds available to get certified,” said Capo.
In Texas, teachers already can arm themselves.
“In response to Sandy Hook, I wanted to do something that would protect public school children,” said former Texas Rep. Jason Villalba.
Villalba authored a bill that created the school marshal program in 2013.
“We looked at what happened after 9/11 and we saw the air marshal program, you had an individual on that plane who was not known to others,” he said.
It focuses, not on arming all teachers, but on arming a designated ‘school marshal,’ a person who would be required to pass a background check and complete law enforcement training.
But almost a decade later, Villalba says it’s only used in 276 districts out of around 1,200 across the state.
“We found there were not enough resources for school districts to get comfortable with this,” he said.
Villalba is now out of office. He says looking at Uvalde, we have to do something.
“There’s no one size fits all,” he said. “Gun control by itself will not end this problem, although I do believe we need some common-sense gun control reforms.”
Villalba’s views have cost him. Villalba was a Republican and member of the NRA. After he opposed constitutional carry, he lost his Republican primary in 2018.