Texas’ top law enforcement official proposed new efforts to arm educators after a rifle-toting gunman killed 19 children and two teachers inside a classroom. State statistics suggest most teachers aren’t interested, reports Politico. For more than a decade, state laws have allowed teachers to go to work empowered as armed school security — or the last line of defense against an active shooter. Armed school staff could help quickly respond to on-campus violence “because the reality is we don’t have the resources to have law enforcement at every school,” said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Texas has allowed teachers to sign up as campus “marshals” since 2013 through a program started after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Ct. The initiative has seen fewer than 300 educators sign up across 62 school districts
A survey of more than 1,000 state school districts by the Texas School Safety Center found that only 280 participated in an older, less regulated state “guardian” program to deploy armed teachers as last-ditch guards against active shooters. “When an officer shows up and doesn’t know if you’re the good guy or the bad guy, he’s not gonna ask questions,” said Kathy Martinez-Prather, state school safety center director. More than 100 bills aimed at arming school personnel were introduced in 34 states between 2018 and 2021, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. More than a third of them were introduced after 2018’s shootings in Parkland, Fl. and Santa Fe, Tx. The vast majority failed to advance. Still, by April 2020, a RAND Corp. analysis found 28 states allowed schools to arm teachers or staff in some cases or as part of a specific program. “Bringing more guns into schools makes schools more dangerous and does nothing to shield our students and educators from gun violence,” said National Education Association President Becky Pringle. “We need fewer guns in schools, not more. Teachers should be teaching, not acting as armed security guards.” Florida enacted wide-reaching safety reforms that required schools to post at least one armed guard on campus. Law enforcement presence on local campuses has grown to 4,381 safety officers spread among 3,641 schools.