June 6, 2018

Lone Star State Aims to Stop School Violence

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s response to the most recent shooting is a breath of fresh air.

Whenever there is a school shooting, much of the media, anti-gun advocates and Democrats (but we repeat ourselves) go into overdrive about how something must be done to prevent another incident. Sadly, they roll out the same trope, from calling for new gun legislation to criticizing the idea that teachers could voluntarily be armed. While bloviating about the emotionally laden issue they rarely offer up commonsense ideas that can keep children safe.

That is why Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s response to the most recent school shooting in his state has been such a breath of fresh air. Abbott’s “School and Firearm Safety Action Plan” is actually a document that seeks to prevent such violence in the first place. Created after meeting with numerous victims, parents, teachers, law-enforcement officers, legislators and others, Abbott’s plan isn’t meant to be a panacea for all issues associated with school violence but rather “a starting point” in correcting the situation.

One of the more unique components to the plan is Texas’ school marshal program. “Students, teachers, educators and law enforcement have all said that [arming teachers] is a great idea,” Abbott said. And while many in media have pushed back on the idea of having teachers trained, Abbott vehemently disagreed with their premise during a news conference last week. “Students in Santa Fe said that it is one of the programs that they want to see. If you talk to victims, especially victims in schools, they quickly grasp the benefits of the school marshal program.”

Abbott’s thinking about teachers volunteering to be armed is in line with President Donald Trump’s comments following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tragedy that took place this past February. And while you wouldn’t know it from the mainstream media coverage, the idea of teachers being armed is already commonplace in the United States.

According to John Stossel, the highly respected libertarian reporter who has worked at ABC News, Fox Business News and as contributor for ReasonTV, hundreds of schools already allow it. One school highlighted in his reporting, the Keene Independent School District in Texas, “buys selected teachers guns and pays them a $50 monthly bonus for carrying.” But that’s not all. Stossel notes, “The school also requires those teachers to get 80 hours of training, and then 40 hours each year after that.”

Another positive component of the Abbott plan is its focus on digital technology to prevent attacks. In many of the attacks that have taken place on school campuses over the last 25 years, the perpetrators have been identified by their peers or adults as having mental challenges or trouble fitting in with society. However, many in those communities were afraid to say something. To combat that issue, Abbott’s plan, “enable[s] and encourage[s] parents, students, and teachers to easily report potential harm or criminal activity directed at school students, school employees, and schools.” Mirroring the Department of Homeland Security “If you see something, say something” campaign, the Texas proposal will lead to police acting on tips and (we hope) preventing future shootings.

It’s important to note that while the Abbott school security plan isn’t perfect, it’s a powerful document for government officials around the country to read and emulate. It’s long past time for state governments and local education officials to work with one another on making our schools safer and the Abbott proposal is an important step in making that a reality.

At the national level, it seems that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is on the same track.

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