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Lawmakers Debate Bill Before Governor That Would Arm School Employees

Office of Texas Attorney General

One of the bills awaiting Gov. Perry’s signature, House Bill 1009, would allow trained school employees to use firearms to respond to threats.

Rep. Jason Villalba, a father of two, says he authored the legislation after a gunman fatally shot twenty children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. 

  During a discussion at the KERA studios, Villalba, a Dallas Republican, and Rep. Helen Giddings, a Dallas Democrat, didn’t agree on arming school employees.

“We are going to train employees at the school who will serve covertly only in the moment where there is an active shooter (on campus),” Villalba said, explaining that the employees would receive 80 hours of police training,  guns would be locked up and only police and a top school official would know the identity of the trained employee.

He said his goal was a quicker response to campus violence.

Giddings, however, believes arming school employees creates more danger not less.

“I am just one of those people who don’t believe you make the country safer by putting more guns out there,” she said. 

“I always worry about guns in a situation where there are kids,” said Giddings. 

It’s still unclear which school districts might arm staff members under the provisions of Villalba’s bill. 

Dallas and Fort Worth districts both say they already work with police departments to provide armed officers at high schools and middle schools, but not at elementary schools.

Since Sandy Hook, Dallas schools have approved funding for security cameras and buzz-in checkpoints at their elementary campuses.

Fort Worth ISD just signed an agreement with the city to use unarmed Code Blue citizen  patrols around elementary schools.

Former KERA staffer Shelley Kofler was news director, managing editor and senior reporter. She is an award-winning reporter and television producer who previously served as the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.