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Responding the only way they know how

That’s our Legislature.

In response to last week’s Connecticut school shooting, state Rep.-elect Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, says he will file legislation to allow public school teachers to carry concealed weapons while on campus.

The bill, which Villalba is calling the Protection of Texas Children Act, would permit Texas schools to appoint a member of their faculty as a “school marshal.” The marshal, with training and certification, would be able to “use lethal force upon the occurrence of an attack in the classroom or elsewhere on campus,” according to a press release from Villalba, a newly elected state representative.

“Unfortunately, law enforcement personnel cannot be everywhere at all times,” Villalba said in a statement. “We need to talk very frankly about how we can protect our children if the unthinkable should occur.”

So, to recap:

Will the state of Texas do anything to increase access to mental health services? Well, we’re not going to expand Medicaid, which will put a large burden on counties because of the loss of funding for uncompensated care at public hospitals, and counties are the largest providers of mental health services, so that would be a “no”.

Will the state of Texas do anything to restrict access to the kind of weaponry whose only use is to hunt humans? Please. Don’t you know that the right to high-capacity magazines is protected by the Constitution?

And we haven’t even gotten to the best part:

Villalba’s proposal would create a training system for potential concealed-weapon holding employees of public schools, which would be paid for either by school districts or the employees themselves. Under his plan, there would be one armed employee for every 400 students, marshals who would be unidentifiable except to the school principal, law enforcement and school district administrators. The employees would purchase and maintain their own weapons.

So these “school marshals”, who will presumably be expected to put themselves in the line of fire in the event there ever is an armed intrusion of a school, will be volunteers using their own equipment, and they may have to pay for their own training, because the state of Texas won’t be providing any funding for it. How will principals ever be able to choose from the flood of applicants they’ll surely get for this plum assignment? I’m hard pressed to think of a “solution” to a problem that more thoroughly embodies the current philosophy of the Republican Party than this. Bravo, Rep. Villalba.

To be fair, Land Commissioner/Lite Guv candidate Jerry Patterson has a sensible suggestion for closing the gun show loophole, which ought to help keep a few guns away from bad guys. Obviously, no single solution will cover all contingencies, and ultimately there’s only so much that can be done to deter a determined criminal. But there are simple and obvious things we can and should do to try and prevent gun-related tragedies, and if there’s ever a time to be seeking those answers, it’s now. Kudos to Patterson for taking it seriously. I just hope he has some company.

UPDATE: The following press release just hit my inbox:

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel and AFT President Randi Weingarten react to proposals by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, and William Bennett to arm teachers as a way to prevent school violence.

“Our duty to every child is to provide safe and secure public schools. That is the vow we take as educators. It is both astounding and disturbing that following this tragedy, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, Bill Bennett, and other politicians and pundits have taken to the airwaves to call for arming our teachers. As the rest of the country debates how to keep guns out of schools, some are actually proposing bringing more guns in, turning our educators into objects of fear and increasing the danger in our schools.

“Guns have no place in our schools. Period. We must do everything we can to reduce the possibility of any gunfire in schools, and concentrate on ways to keep all guns off school property and ensure the safety of children and school employees.

“But this is not just about guns. Long-term and sustainable school safety also requires a commitment to preventive measures. We must continue to do more to prevent bullying in our schools. And we must dramatically expand our investment in mental health services. Proper diagnosis can and often starts in our schools, yet we continue to cut funding for school counselors, school social workers, and school psychologists. States have cut at least $4.35 billion in public mental health spending from 2009 to 2012, according to the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors. It is well past time to reverse this trend and ensure that these services are available and accessible to those who need our support.

“Greater access to mental health services, bullying prevention, and meaningful action on gun control—this is where we need to focus our efforts, not on staggeringly misguided ideas about filling our schools with firearms. Lawmakers at every level of government should dismiss this dangerous idea and instead focus on measures that will create the safe and supportive learning environments our children deserve.”

I completely agree.

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9 Comments

  1. […] don’t offer enough tax breaks for businesses in this state. When I read about that ludicrous proposal to let teachers be voluntary cops, I thought it was the pinnacle of Republican philosophy in this state. I may have to reconsider […]

  2. Yesterday, after going to get feed for my livestock I was curious about how much activity there was at a local gun store. I also needed some cartridges for a rifle. We have a hog problem at our farm with them tearing up hay meadows and other pastures. It, the store was about half full of people buying not just cartridges for their current guns but also buying semiautomatic rifles and handguns. I had to wait about 30 minutes just to buy one box of 20 cartridges. To the store’s credit they were checking identification on customers and even put my information from my driver’s license in their computer for just buying ammunition. Closing the gun show loophole would be a good start to, “Keep a few guns away from bad guys.”

  3. Michael says:

    We can’t trust teachers to teach, so let’s gun ‘em up?

    Arm the Union Thugs!

    And send the Marshalls to the SBOE meetings…

  4. Ben Carson says:

    So,
    Let me get this straight.
    -On one hand there will be a bill that prohibits (in some manner) pat-down searches at airports. This strategy is meant to keep weapons off airplanes along with the nuts carrying them.
    -On the other hand, we will have a bill that arms all (or a lot of) teachers in our schools. This is meant to protect our kids.

    Really??? Does anyone have a word that defines this? Logical is not one by the way.

  5. Ross says:

    Kuff, nearly every firearm in use today is derived from a military design, so it’s pretty disingenuous to talk about “the kind of weaponry whose only use is to hunt humans”.

    Banning so called “assault” weapons won’t work, because it’s hard to define what is meant by the term. The assault weapons bans to date have really been ugly gun bans, because they ban based on appearance, leaving any number of less aggressive appearing, but functionally identical, firearms legal.

    I keep seeing posts from folks who apparently know nothing about firearms claiming that the “assault” weapons have no legitimate sporting purpose. This just isn’t true. An AR-15 is an awesome rifle for ridding a ranch of coyotes and gophers, and work extremely well on turkeys. All of the features that annoy the anti-gun crowd make the rifles easy to carry and easy to shoot. AR-15’s are also the rifle of choice for most competitive rifle shooters, with hundreds of thousands of folks using them in rifle matches around the country.

    As for firearms in schools, anyone who thinks they won’t make a positive difference is naive at best. The insane cowards who shoot up schools choose them as targets because the people in them aren’t armed and can’t fight back. One armed teacher can make a difference in a mass shooting situation. Especially when no one knows who the armed teacher is.

  6. Kris Overstreet says:

    Ross: one armed teacher can also CAUSE a mass shooting. If memory serves, the mother of the Sandy Hook killer was also a teacher.

    Also, if you conservatives don’t trust teachers to teach basic demonstrable facts about the world to your children, how can you trust them to know when a strange noise is just a strange noise and not an insane killer? When you arm teachers- especially at their OWN EXPENSE- you’re pretty much guaranteeing a bad-fire incident where a teacher kills an innocent student out of fear and paranoia.

  7. Here’s something I did not know until just now, when I read it in Wonkblog: Columbine High School had an armed “community resource officer” on duty the day that two students shot 12 of their peers and one teacher.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/12/21/security-guards-in-school-scared-students-unclear-effect-on-crime/?wprss=rss_ezra-klein

    http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2000/columbine.cd/Pages/DEPUTIES_TEXT.htm

    So, having an armed sheriff’s deputy on site did not stop that tragedy. Just another data point to consider.

  8. Ross says:

    @Kris, my child is in a public school. I trust the teachers to do their jobs. The biggest problems with schools are parental involvement and funding. I am more of a moderate libertarian than a conservative. Heck, I even vote for a few Democrats in local races.

    I’ve seen numerous articles questioning the assertion that Lanza’s mother was a teacher.

    Ordinary citizens that go to the effort to obtain a CHL in Texas are generally better trained and better shots than police officers. Police officers are far more likely to blast away at bad guys (or good guys) without thinking about the potential safety issues. I would honestly trust an armed teacher far more than I would a police officer.

    I don’t know that there is a good solution to the issue. I would hope that we don’t make spur of the moment decisions that unfairly punish law abiding firearms owners while doing nothing to prevent future incidents.

  9. Yvonne Larsen says:

    A licensed firearms dealer (such as Academy, Walmart, Top Gun) must perform a background check at the point and time the weapon is being transferred. At a gun show, the licensed firearms dealer must also perform a background check at the point the weapon is being transferred. There is no such thing as a “loophole”.

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