a gun in every school | #schoolsaftey

In the aftermath of the Uvalde mass shooting and the killing of 19 children and two teachers, many grieving families rallied for gun reform in Austin.

key change they sought was
lawmakers raising the purchase age for assault-style weapons from 18 to 21, a reform that may have prevented the massacre on May 24, 2022. The Uvalde gunman
legally purchased his weapons
when he was 18.

It took days upon days of advocacy in Austin to simply move the bill out of a House hearing, and even then it never made it to a floor vote, and even if it had made it to a floor vote, it would have failed, and even if it had somehow passed the Texas House, the reform had no chance in the Texas Senate.

One might look at this chronicle of a bill’s death foretold and conclude that the majority of lawmakers refused to listen to the grieving Uvalde families, but this would be too generous. Not only did most lawmakers not listen to the families, but they went the opposite direction. There soon will be a gun in every public school in Texas.

House Bill 3, sprawling campus security legislation and a priority response to the Uvalde atrocity, will
require an armed security officer in every school. This could be a district peace officer, school resource officer or a commissioned peace officer, but it could also be a school marshal, contractor or trained district employee.

In other words, a gun in every public school.

Implicit in this is an expectation — even an acceptance — of gun violence threatening children and schools.

The legislation falls short in other ways.

Each district in Texas will receive $15,000 per school and $10 per student to implement school safety plans. But experts have said this is not enough, especially for a state with a $33 billion budget surplus.

Gun violence rates have risen in Texas, likely for many reasons, but clearly over a time when state lawmakers have steadily loosened gun regulations.

According to data from
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
firearms were used in 4,613 deaths in Texas in 2021. This was a death rate of 15 per 100,000 people. In 2005, the firearm-related death rate was
11.1 per 100,000 people.

If lawmakers want to keep schools free from gun violence, they should consider regulations that limit access to the firearms that could potentially make their way to a campus. The shooter in the 2018 Santa Fe High School massacre — eight students and two teachers were killed — used weapons that belonged to his father.

As the Giffords Law Center
outlines in a policy briefing, “Gun violence prevention measures for our schools should focus on educating kids and parents about the dangers of firearms and importance of safe storage, rather than on arming teachers.

“A study of 37 school shootings in 26 states found that in nearly two-thirds of the incidents, the attacker got the gun from his or her own home or that of a relative,” the briefing said.

Schools also have generally been safer than the world outside of campus. To again cite Giffords, a federal report found that between 1992 and 2006, a time when gun safety reforms were more stringent, “at least 50 times as many murders of young people ages 5-18 occurred away from school than at school.”

And, finally, let’s also remember that while the Uvalde police response was atrocious, officers were on the scene within minutes and were overwhelmed by an assault-style weapon. It’s hard to imagine one trained officer, or an armed staffer, would fare better.

The expectation that the constant presence of a gun on campus will somehow stop another atrocity offers a false sense of security and flies in the face of reality.

Such is the state of our state when it comes to firearm reforms.

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