Weatherford Democrat

April 17, 2013

Bill allowing gun-toting teachers passes Senate

Estes bill would let teachers voluntarily seek training for active-shooter scenarios

Weatherford Democrat

— From Staff Reports

AUSTIN – The Texas Senate on Monday passed the Texas School Safety Training Act, which empowers qualified concealed handgun license instructors to earn a “school safety certification,” allowing them to train teachers to save lives should an active-shooter scenario occur inside a Texas school.

“The goal of my bill is to enable CHL instructors to provide training to qualified teachers on basic defensive tactics while not diminishing the local control of school districts,” State Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, said. “My bill is a voluntary, free market approach that doesn’t cost the state one penny.”

Currently, school personnel are provided with little or no training in how to properly respond to an active school shooter situation. Under the act, teachers would receive training on best practices for the protection of students, how to interact with first responders, tactics to deny an intruder entry into a classroom, and accuracy with a handgun under duress. The enhanced training is voluntary and only available to teachers who already have a CHL.

There is measurable demand for this type of training. Earlier this month, more than 700 school personnel attended a free, all-day session on gun laws and safety in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Estes, whose Senate District 30 includes Parker County, said the bill has the support of the Texas Parent Teacher Association, the National Rifle Association and the Texas State Rifle Association. It now moves to a House committee for review. Estes said if made law, individual school districts would decide whether to allow licensed and trained teachers to carry handguns on campus.

In January, the Committee on Agriculture, Rural Affairs, & Homeland Security held a hearing to discuss how to increase the safety of students and teachers in Texas public schools, prompting Estes to file the bill, known as SB 1857.