The debate over how to improve school safety is a complicated one, especially here in Texas. Some believe that putting guns in the hands of trained school marshals would be the best solution. During the current legislative session, there are multiple bills to expand the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement’s school marshal program. But for some minority students that idea is the quite the opposite of reassuring.
Alex Samuels, who has been writing about school safety for the Texas Tribune, says that lawmakers started considering changes to the school marshal program following the shooting at Santa Fe High School last May. Some of the proposals that lawmakers are looking at this year include reducing the required 80 hours of training that marshals are currently required to undergo, eliminating a requirement that teachers who choose to become marshals keep their firearms locked and increasing the number of school marshal s there can be appointed per school.
“I think the fears that are coming in this [legislative] session come as they’re trying to expand the marshal program and make it more accessible to Texas schools,” Samuels says. “So if teachers are carrying guns on their holster while students are present or if they’re immune from lawsuit for any ‘reasonable action’ taken to maintain safety, there’s a fear now that maybe hasn’t been there in the past.”
A report by Texas Appleseed and Texans Care for Children found that black students are overrepresented in all types of disciplinary referrals and are more likely to have their behavior addressed by school police officers than their white peers.
“So there’s a fear that if teachers are carrying guns on their holster or if they just have guns at their disposal, black students feel like they might be unnecessarily put in harm’s way,” Samuels says.
Written by Morgan Kuehler.