BEAUMONT, Texas — A bill proposed by a Texas Republican senator is one of several aiming to address school safety. The bill would expand a Texas law passed in 2015. If approved, the expansion would allow concealed guns in public schools.
It would also allow licensed adults to carry weapons in public and charter schools. This is getting several mixed responses across Southeast Texas.
The bill was proposed by senator Bob Hall, R-Texas. Hall wants to expand the state's marshal program, which allows properly trained staff members to carry guns on campus.
The expansion would determine who can carry and on what campuses. The original marshal program grants some permission to carry and one Southeast Texas school has already implemented that program.
In 2018, Lumberton ISD adopted a new policy: employees on campus can carry concealed handguns. Back then, some supported the decision
“A good guy with a gun is better than a bad guy with a gun,” Lowell Myers said.
But reactions were mixed in 2018. And now in 2021, with an expansion on the table, opinions still remain divided.
“Anytime you bring a deadly weapon into an area, it causes an extra threat, it causes a security problem,” James Carter said.
Carter has children attending Beaumont ISD and he's a certified weapons instructor. He said handling guns is complicated.
“We have to look at the aesthetics of the training the ongoing training after their allowed to carry those weapons in the school we have to look at threat assessments in the schools,” Carter said.
Even after teachers are properly trained, he feels there are risks.
“Sometimes that training goes out the door, so just because someone's carrying a weapon that doesn't mean they can stop a threat or that there's not going to be residual injuries,” Carter said.
Gyl Switzer with Texas Gun Sense worries about proper gun storage and whose hands the guns fall into. The non-profit is dedicated to supporting policies to reduce gun injuries and deaths.
“It's just not the way to keep kids safe or staff,” Switzer said.
The proposed bill still has a long way to go. It has yet to be heard in committee, which is a step that must be taken before it hits the floor for a vote.
It remains unclear if the house or senate will take up the bill this session.
"Schools, known as a gun-free zone, might as well hang a neon sign saying, 'if you want to harm kids, come in here.’ The more people there are who can protect, the safer our society is." said Texas State Representative Bob Hall.