Rep. Jason Villalba Files Bill To Create Armed "School Marshals" [Updated]

Back in December, freshman state representative Jason Villalba, who hails from North Dallas, got a lot of attention for his plan to file a bill allowing Texas school teachers to carry guns. The bill, which he's calling the Protection of Texas Children Act, would allow certain school district employees to become designated as "marshals" and carry weapons.

But Villalba soon told us that some aspects of the proposed bill had been misconstrued. "Now I've become the face of teacher-carry," he said at the time. He stressed that any potential school district employees interested in becoming marshals would have to undergo a background check, a mental health evaluation, and weapons training. Teachers, or anyone else who spends a lot of time around children, would need to keep their guns locked up, while administrators could carry them on their person.

This morning, Villalba finally filed the bill, HB 1009. The bill text isn't online yet, but in an interview with the Texas Tribune, Villalba said the main purpose of the plan "is to reduce response times from minutes down to seconds" during an "active shooter" situation.

The bill summary reads, in full:

Relating to the creation of a new category of law enforcement officer who shall be designated a school marshal, the training and appointment of certain employees of a school district or open-enrollment charter school as school marshals, and the rights, restrictions, limitations, and responsibilities of school marshals; authorizing the imposition of a fee.

Villalba told the Tribune that the school marshal position would require a mental health evaluation, as well as "active shooter and emergency situation training" and firearms proficiency, totaling about 80 hours of classwork and "simulations." There would be one armed marshal for every 400 students, and they would be "unidentifiable" except by the school principal, administrators, and law enforcement. Marshals would buy their own weapons, and school districts could choose to provide funding for the training.

Update, 4:50 p.m.: The full text of the bill is now available here (opens as a PDF). Looks like school marshals would be empowered to make arrests, but not to give out traffic citations. They also wouldn't get the same state benefits a cop gets.

Marshals who have "regular, direct contact" with students would be required to keep their weapons in a secure, locked location, while the administrators allowed to carry the weapons on their person would need to keep them loaded only with "frangible ammunition designed to disintegrate on impact for maximum safety and minimal danger to others." The gun could only be accessed under "circumstances that would justify the use of deadly force."

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