AUSTIN – After the recent deadly shootings at a Florida high school, gun advocates such as the National Rifle Association and others say arming teachers could avoid another massacre.
However, with few exceptions, most teachers in Texas think that’s a bad idea, and that it is not their job to take on armed attackers.
Clay Robison, a public affairs specialist for the Texas State Teachers Association, which represents thousands of Texas school teachers, says despite what activists may believe, firepower is not the answer to school violence.
“You do not cure gun violence in the classroom by putting more guns into schools,” he says. “You sell more guns that way, but you don’t address the problem of gun violence.”
For several years, the NRA and other groups have promoted the idea of having teachers and other staff carry firearms to protect students in case of an attack. But Robison says TSTA, and its parent group the National Education Association, believe lawmakers should instead focus on ways to end the violence, such as passing common-sense gun laws and improving mental-health care.
He says while some small Texas school districts do allow teachers with proper training to carry guns in the classroom, they are the exception, rather than the rule.
“You can train teachers to get a handgun license, but most of our members that we have talked to don’t want that,” he adds. “They do not want to be put in the position of having to have a gunfight with an armed intruder.”
Robison says a large part of why many school campuses are vulnerable is because the state doesn’t provide enough money for proper security.
“Most of the major school districts have their own police forces, and they have armed officers who are trained to deal with these kind of situations,” he explains. “You can only go so far with the resources that school districts have because the Legislature refuses to fully fund education.”
The National Education Association is an advocate for more than 3 million teachers across the country.
Author: Mark Richardson, Public News Service