In the immediate aftermath of the Texas elementary school massacre, conservative state politicians reacted by once again calling for teachers and school staff to take up arms to protect students from similar incidents, a proposal strongly opposed by teachers, researchers and activists. of arms control.
“We can provide weapons and prepare and train teachers and other administrators to respond quickly because we do not actually have the resources to have class members in every school,” said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. speaking to Fox News on Tuesday.
Texas has already begun this type of training, a school sheriff’s program called the School Marshal Program, which allows teachers and administrators to carry weapons after receiving 80 hours of training at academies overseen by the Texas Law Enforcement Commission.
The program began in 2013 and was expanded under the leadership of Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican. There are now 256 teachers and administrators in Texas who have undergone this training, up from 34 before the Santa Fe massacre in 2018.
Craig Bessent, a deputy superintendent of the Wylie Independent School District, first received training in 2014 and, although the identities of school sheriffs are not usually disclosed, he acts as a kind of representative.
“We have school sheriffs in every school in our district, even in kindergartens,” Besed said. “I have my gun on me, hidden. If we have to react immediately, as in the incident that took place yesterday (Tuesday), we are always ready,” he stressed.
In Tuesday’s massacre, an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 children and two elementary school teachers in the small Texas town of Uvalde.
For gun control activists, the program is another step in the wrong direction in the United States, the country with the most guns in the world, with one of the highest rates of firearm deaths.
“The attorney general’s comments are another indication that the slave advocates of the Texas-led arms lobby will do their utmost to avoid addressing the issue of gun violence,” said Shannon Watts, co-founder of the control group. of Moms Demand Action.
The Texas Teachers’ Union has opposed the school sheriff’s program, which was instituted in response to the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut.
“Instead of adding more weapons to the schools, they should take steps to keep the weapons out of the school,” said Clay Robinson, a spokesman for the union.
Giving guns to teachers is “wrong,” said Dennis Gottpherson, a criminologist at the University of Maryland, explaining that having more guns could lead to more violence.
“These weapons may be fired by mistake, the teachers who have them may use them intentionally for other purposes and, even more likely, the weapons may fall into the hands of students,” he said.