Two heavy hitters are weighing in on a growing debate at the state capitol. The question: should school employees be allowed to carry concealed firearms for protection?
The lieutenant governor and education commissioner explained their concerns during conversations with KERA’s Shelley Kofler in Austin.
In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shootings, Texas’ newly appointed education commissioner Michael Williams began thinking about the “what if.”
What if school officials in the small Connecticut town had been carrying concealed weapons? Could they have stopped the gunman sooner?
Would Texas children be safer if school employees with concealed handgun permits carry their firearms at their schools?
Commissioner Williams decided the answer is probably “yes.”
“We should be able to protect our youngsters with something other than hope,” he said.
“We have armed security in banks. We have armed security in the state capitol. We have armed security at the airport. We have armed security everywhere but not where the most valuable asset is, and that’s our school children,” said Williams.
Texas law prohibits the carrying of concealed weapons on school property unless the district gives written permission.
Commissioner Williams voiced support for districts that want to exercise the option.
“If a person who has a concealed handgun license has adequate training- and it’s a different kind of training to have a gun on a school campus-and they provide adequate safety procedures for the housing of that gun, local districts ought to be able to permit that,” said Williams.
But Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst holds a concealed handgun license and says the training required to obtain it doesn’t prepare most carriers for a confrontation with someone who is armed.
Dewhurst is mulling over a plan that includes state funding for extra school employee training.
“The training involved with the concealed handgun law license is not sufficient in my judgment for an event involving an active shooter,” said Dewhurst.
“The teacher might get shot themselves or might shoot a child by mistake so I would want to see a lot more training,”
Lawmakers are divided over whether they should take steps to encourage school employees to carry guns.
“I think it would have alleviated some of the deaths we’ve had in school shootings. I’m OK with it,” said Rep. Cindy Burkett, a Republic from Mesquite.
Rep. Joe Deshotel, a Beaumont Democrat, believes with more guns in schools you’ll have more shootings.
“You don’t want to have every teacher in schools having guns because they have a concealed weapon (permit), in my opinion,” said Deshotel.
“They’ll be leaving them in their purses. They’ll be leaving them on their desks. They’ll be everywhere. Teachers get in arguments with other teachers. People get hot-headed,” he said.
Deshotel says there may be a need for are more armed guards on campuses. Other lawmakers believe school employees can be the armed guards.
In addition to Dewhurst’s push to fund firearms training lawmakers are expected to unleash legislation for and against the idea of school officials packing heat.