Education

With School Approaching, Texas Republicans Have Ideas to Stop Campus Shootings

Texas Republicans have some creative ideas about how to prevent school shootings.
Texas Republicans have some creative ideas about how to prevent school shootings. Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash
It’s been more than two months since a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde. The massacre sparked contentious debates among politicians about how to prevent another campus shooting.

Democrats have largely pushed for stricter firearm legislation, including universal background checks and red flag laws, and a ban on assault-style weapons. Many Republicans, meanwhile, have resisted the call to tighten gun regulations.

Around 54% of Texas voters support a national ban on semiautomatic rifles as of June, according to polling by The Texas Politics Project. But some Texas conservatives suggest other ways to stave off another massacre — and yes, one solution includes adding more guns to the mix.

Here are three ideas from Texas Republicans on how to protect our students and school employees.

Arm the Teachers

Some conservative politicians want to fight gunfire with gunfire. Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn, for instance, recently claimed that “many, many” Texas educators are preparing to carry firearms on campus.

On May 24, the day of the Uvalde school shooting, Attorney General Ken Paxton also touted the proposal on Fox News. “We can potentially arm and prepare and train teachers and other administrators to respond quickly,” he said as clips from the campus’ crime scene flashed on-screen.
In a recent survey by the Texas AFT teachers union, 90% of the state’s school employees reported they have worried about their campus experiencing a shooting. Another major finding was that 77% of participants said they don’t want to be armed.

Texas AFT President Zeph Capo noted on the group’s website that attempting to arm educators is “risky and counterproductive.

“Teachers can’t be expected to become highly-trained law enforcement officers and use guns in a crisis without endangering students or themselves,” he continued.

Rena Honea, president of Dallas Alliance-AFT union, told the Observer that for certain students, “knowing that guns are in the possession of some of the staff could be a challenge to get it and cause harm.” The move could also result in accidental shootings, she said by email.

Honea further noted that even officials who are trained for such scenarios run into issues, ones that school employees shouldn’t have to handle.

Add Armed Guards

Many Texas Republicans have blasted Uvalde’s failed law enforcement response. Yet others have floated the idea of more armed guards in schools, including in cafeterias.

At the Texas Republican Convention last month, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said, “When our children are eating their meals, watching over them will be a good guy with a gun ready to take out a bad guy with a gun.”

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has also endorsed the idea of armed security personnel as “the most effective tool” to safeguard the state’s students. But, as KXAN reported shortly after the Uvalde massacre, certain studies indicate that the presence of officers doesn’t necessarily prevent school shootings.

Honea explained that many schools, particularly secondary ones, already have armed guards at the ready.

“They’re effective in their jobs, but there is always a need for more,” she wrote. “That requires people, funding, and training. Each district must develop a plan that works for them.”

Honea pointed out that a Dallas ISD task force has considered the school shooting problem. The way she sees it, school districts should create solid communication and safety plans and follow them to the letter.

Earlier this summer, Dallas ISD made national news after it mandated see-through backpacks for the upcoming school year.

One-Door Schoolhouses

The Uvalde gunman entered Robb Elementary School through a back door. State officials initially claimed that a teacher had left the door propped open.

The narrative changed after the teacher's attorney came forward and said she'd actually closed the door when she saw the shooter approaching, but it failed to lock.

Cruz and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick have proposed bolting all but one schoolhouse door. “Multiple armed police officers” would be stationed at those single points of entry, Cruz said at the National Rifle Association convention three days after Uvalde. Veterans could possibly serve as security, he added.

Honea sees some problems with such a plan.

“This poses safety hazards for those inside the building,” she said. “Fire codes would come into play and where you have campuses with 3,000–5,000 students, which many of our high schools have, entrances and exits would be extremely time-consuming and unreasonable.”

The first day of school for most Dallas ISD campuses is Aug. 15.
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Simone Carter, a staff news reporter at the Dallas Observer, graduated from the University of North Texas' Mayborn School of Journalism. Her favorite color is red, but she digs Miles Davis' Kind of Blue.
Contact: Simone Carter