A Texas Senate committee looking at ways to prevent school shootings and violence is batting about .500 with the recommendations they announced Monday.
That’s a pretty good average in baseball, but when it comes to school safety it means they missed some opportunities to hit it out of the park.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick assembled the bipartisan group of lawmakers after a 17-year old student opened fire at Santa Fe High School near Houston in May, killing 10.
Gov. Greg Abbott quickly held roundtable hearings that produced a 44-page school safety plan, and the Senate committee seems to wisely concur with a lot of what the governor’s plan recommends.
Both call for improving mental health training for school staff and expanding counseling for troubled students. They’re on board for training and arming more school personnel in districts, expanding the use of metal detectors and more restricted access to school buildings.
Though money will be tight for state lawmakers putting together the next two-year budget, we’re glad to see the governor and senators are calling for greater funding to implement those safety options.
We’re cautiously on board with the call to arm more school employees as long as they receive solid training and parents as well as school personnel support that.
What’s missing from the Senate recommendations, however, are two very moderate measures in the governor’s plan that would make it more difficult for the mentally ill and minors to gain access to weapons.
The “red flag” proposal would allow law enforcement, family members and others to a file a petition to have guns taken away from a potentially dangerous person after a legal process. A stronger firearm storage law would keep guns out of the hands of children under 18, making it a violation when a minor gains access to a gun, even if it’s not loaded.
These aren’t radical ideas that threaten Second Amendment rights, though both are strongly opposed by the Texas State Rifle Association, which has a lot of pull at the Capitol. (Our interview with the TSRA is below.)
As we get closer to the January legislative session we want lawmakers to give these commonsense, firearm measures a second look. The people who would find it more difficult to possess a gun are people who shouldn’t have them.