Guns Required at Every Texas Public School

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The 2022 Robb Elementary School massacre in Uvalde, Texas was a horrific event that sparked a public outcry for “something” to be done. 21 people were killed, 19 of them children. Any event this horrifying begs the question, “What could they have done to save them?”

Gov. Greg Abbott believed $50 million in ballistic shields would be a good response. On paper, it may have been, but the bullet-resistant shields were all over that school’s hall and did not do a thing of value. Shields should be used as a tool and not as a tactic. Effective tools are often task-specific, just as a chef would not use a cleaver if a paring blade was available.

50 million dollars of taxpayer money in Texas has been thrown down the drain.

What about the notion that “the best thing to do is stop a bad person with a weapon”? Guns are like shields: they’re tools, not tactics. Each officer who responded to the incident had a weapon, but it took 77 mins for someone “to do something.”

Too much bureaucracy Should we just bypass law enforcement, and put guns on every campus? The 88th Texas Legislative Assembly voted yes. House Bill 3 passed quietly and was signed into law in a bipartisan effort this summer.

The word “quietly”, in the sentence above, will be noticed by the discerning reader. Even in a state that has a long history of gun ownership and a modern love for firearms, putting a firearm at every public school is a huge step. Where were the press conferences and signing ceremonies then? Where is that flashy bill? As with hashtags, acronyms in activism are also expected.

It’s as if the legislators don’t want attention or praise. It’s unsettling when a politician tries to avoid the spotlight. If a Texas Republican does not immediately launch a re-election or email fundraising campaign from the We Solved A Problem! It is worth a close look.

It’s clear after reading the 20 or so pages of HB 3 that the details wouldn’t go over well in a crowded lift — but if they’re silent, then maybe they can get away with it.

The biggest mistake made with HB 3 was replacing expertise with intent. You don’t have to be a good guy with a firearm in order to shoot accurately enough at seven yards. Knowing what’s beyond your target is a fundamental rule in gun safety. You should also account for each round that leaves the barrel.

The ammunition is designed so that it will break upon impact, spreading the energy out rather than through. This reduces the chance of exit or ricochet wounds. The bullet can penetrate walls and even people wearing body armor.

Years of practice, testing, and training are what make an expert. Not dot or Laser sights, flashlights, or ammunition. The Texas legislature expects School Resource Officers (SROs), teachers, contract security, or anyone else with a duty to create that much time. These campuses must be compliant by the fall, or they will have to spend their time filling out waivers and extension requests.

HB 3 mandates more than just one armed guard on every public school campus, during school hours. It also requires:

Employees who work with students regularly should receive mental health training.

Every year, conduct general intruder detection audits.

A campus emergency response map with floor plans, access controls, and exterior door labels for every building.

You can walk through the maps with the Department of Public Safety in order to verify their accuracy.

Multi-hazard Emergency Operations Plan

Every three years, audits are conducted on the physical security and safety of facilities.

Meetings are held every two years between the Sheriff’s Office of the county and at least 10 other agencies.

Inspection of physical facilities for safety and security standards, including design, construction, performance, and operational standards, at least every five years.

You wouldn’t know it was a joke unless you got to the punchline. Each campus will get $15,000 for achieving compliance.

The state will spend a little over $330 million on the $15,000 allotment. With these two receipts, Texas has now spent $380 million in taxpayer dollars on school security and safety. If you spread that money across Texas’s 9,00 campuses, it would buy many locks. Unlocked doors are how the Uvalde killer gained access to his victims.

We need to stop waiting on politicians to “do” something. Governor Abbott’s “solutions” are not working. Abbott and the Texas Legislature are misguided. The unnecessary shields will be thrown in the storage closet and collect dust. People who have pistols on campus but are not properly trained are liabilities. The best thing HB 3 can do is to let potential murderers know that there is someone nearby with a firearm.

It doesn’t matter which state you live in, the thought of an armed assailant on campus is always on our minds. In the 50 state capitols, it is important to understand what lawmakers are doing to improve school safety. If something as well-intentioned and promising as HB 3 in Texas can go awry, what could be happening in your own state?