Guns already allowed in Texas schools

Posted Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012  comments  Print Reprints

Is arming schoolteachers and staff a good idea?

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kennedy To loud cheers from a fully lathered Tea Party crowd, Gov. Rick Perry has called for arming teachers.

It might sound shocking. Or primitive. Or backward.

Except that's already Texas law.

Even as lawmakers in Austin race to file bills giving teachers the freedom to carry guns, some already do in one Northwest Texas school and maybe more.

Texas law not only allows schools to hire police and plainclothes officers, but also says anyone can carry with officials' OK.

"We have all the laws we need," said Mansfield school district Police Chief Mike Leyman, vice president of a statewide association for campus police.

But he also said chiefs aren't thrilled at the idea.

"If a teacher had a gun and a bad guy has a gun, it's tough for us to tell who's the good guy," he said.

Near the Red River, the Harrold schools have allowed a few teachers to carry weapons for four years. The Wilbarger County Sheriff's Department rarely has a deputy nearby. Other districts allow guns on campus for security, training, hunter safety programs, historical events, theater performances and ROTC, according to the Texas Association of School Boards. There's also the occasional gun prize in a PTA or booster club raffle.

Texas Penal Code Sec. 46.03 (a) (1) is broad. It allows guns for anyone with permission, not simply a teacher or employee.

Speaking at a forum for the Grapevine-based Northeast Tarrant Tea Party, Perry supported allowing concealed-handgun permit holders to carry their guns on campus. He drew cheers when he said those who are teachers should "have access to weapons in their school."

Later, he told a KXAS/Channel 5 reporter that whether teachers carry guns should be up to "local control."

Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, author of the state's concealed-handgun law as a state senator, had already come out in favor of adding police and armed volunteers in schools, which he called a "target-rich environment."

Rookie state Rep.-elect Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, proposed a new law Tuesday creating "school marshals" and requiring extra training.

"I'd want to be careful," said Leyman, the Mansfield chief. "What's important is the emergency plan. You don't want to just add guns without a plan."

That has never slowed down the Texas Legislature.

Bud Kennedy's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538

Twitter: @budkennedy

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