More Texas teachers may be able to carry guns into their classroom, according to one of the bills Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law Thursday.
School districts would be able to determine how many “marshals,” or school employees trained to carry guns on campus, each school needs. They also provide for additional mental health counselors so students who pose threats can be more quickly identified, The Associated Press reported.
The measures were enacted to address the state’s response to the May 2018 Houston school shooting.
“We are proud to have responded to one of the most horrific days in the state of Texas,” said Abbott.
Today I signed school safety laws in response to the Santa Fe High School shooting.
They make our schools safer places for children to learn, for teachers to educate, and for families to gather. #txlege https://t.co/F0Xd9311hW
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) June 7, 2019
The laws also ramp up campus security with alarm systems, security doors, metal detectors and vehicle barriers, according to KVUE.
While the Texas State Teachers Association supported the increase in training and mental health services, it did not support expanding the marshal program.
“Teachers are trained to teach and to nurture, not double up as security guards,” said Clay Robison, union spokesman.
Other states have added security after mass shootings, including Colorado, which announced a major increase in security funding after a shooting, and Florida, which recently approved adding more armed teachers after the February 2018 Parkland high school tragedy.
Teachers who wish to become marshals must undertake 80 hours of firearms training that includes confronting “active shooter” situations. Prior to the Houston shooting, Texas had fewer than 40 marshals in more than 1,000 school districts. Two hundred reportedly applied since then.
“We can never erase the pain that this tragedy caused, but we can act to make our schools safer,” Abbott added.
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