Teacher Handgun Training

Teacher handgun training, Big Red Car?

Big Red Car here on a gloomy, sticky 72F and gray day in the ATX. The tragedy of Parkland is still with us and making us contemplate good and bad ideas in the heat of the moment. Never a good idea to make decisions  in the heat of the moment, but that is where we are.

Big question to consider. Should we arm teachers?

Image result for images teachers with guns

Do teachers want to be armed, Big Red Car?

The Big Red Car expected this to be a contentious issue, but it was illuminating when an Ohio Sheriff in Butler County offered free handgun training to teachers. This was post-Parkland. Within five hours, more than 300 teachers signed up for the training.

Ohio has 225 school districts and each district has to decide for itself what they want to do.

This policy – arming school teachers – is consistent with the position of the National Rifle Association and was suggested by President Trump, though he has not said he definitely supports the notion.

The teacher response in a single county bears considertion.

What are they doing in Texas, Big Red Car?

Texas has had a law since 2013, the Protection of Texas Children Act, which creates a new category of peace officers. The new class is called a “school marshal” and can be a principal, coach, custodian, or teacher. They can only perform their duties when there is an active shooter.

Texas is America.

The position has some specific requirements:

 1. The same background investigation as a law enforcement officer undergoes to be commissioned as a police officer;

 2. A psychological evaluation and a physical fitness test;

 3. Initial and periodic active shooter training which is 80 hours (30 hours of dual instruction and solo flight is required to get a private pilots license) – teacher handgun training – and given by police academies;

 4. Safeguarding of weapons. School marshals while in direct contact with students must secure their weapon under lock and key in close proximity. Those not in direct contact with students carry their weapon in a “concealed carry” mode.

 5. School marshals must use “frangible” ammunition – bullets which fracture upon impact and pose a lower risk of hitting innocent bystanders.

 6. The ratio of school marshals to students is one school marshal to each 200 students. For small schools who do not have at least 400 students, the ratio is one marshal to each building.

The program provides that the district school board must approve of those who volunteer for the program, but the persons’ identity is held confidential and they carry their weapons concealed.

The Texas Guardian Plan

Individual school districts can make the decision to arm teachers under the auspices of the Guardian Plan which predates the Protection of Texas Children Act.

Under this program, school districts may design their own plans.

Bottom line it, Big Red Car – teacher handgun training

 1. There are 1,023 independent school districts in Texas.

 2. 15% of school districts have their own organic police force which is armed.

 3. 24% of school districts directly employ “resource officers” who are not teachers. These resource officers are armed.

 4. 15% – 172 – of school districts have instituted teacher carry programs either under the school marshal program or the Guardian Plan.

More than half of the school districts in Texas have taken action to safeguard their vulnerable students.

One last thought – Texas has led the nation on his because it has a working relationship with guns because of its rural ranch culture and the long time for first responders to reach outlying rural jurisdictions. If it takes 20 minutes for law enforcement to reach the scene of the crime, the damage is done. Texas is a little different in that way, y’all. Remember that.

Bravo, Texas! The rest of y’all consider your duties and do them.

What is not discussed is what private schools are doing.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. Be safe and be nice to someone who is lonely. You can do it.


7 thoughts on “Teacher Handgun Training

  1. Interesting discussion. I teach at a community college with sworn police officers (employees of the community college district)–but there are only three on duty on our multi-building campus (student population 8,000+–down from 11,000 at height of recession). 20K students in entire district spread over four campuses and two learning centers.

    Missouri is also looking at Texas model–some legislators have put together similar enabling legislation this year. If it passes, our college board members would have to decide what to do.

    Of course, no one knows if Texas model really works–it hasn’t been tested by a school shooting. Some have argued that the school marshal program is a deterrent, so of course there haven’t been any incidents–proving or disproving a negative is impossible. And no one knows if the training or safety procedures really would be as effective as folks assume it would be.

    My own experience is not dispositive–I’ve carried a weapon pretty much 24/7 only in combat, but was never personally threatened to the point where I had to fire it.

    here’s recent POLITICO article on the Texas program: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/02/24/armed-teachers-texas-trump-362397

      • You ask a question that is not theoretical for me any more, since the Missouri legislature is considering a similar program to that in Texas. In many ways, I would be a lousy candidate for the position–66, cataract surgery, slower reflexes, a variety of low-level physical concerns. I don’t know how well i could manage a weapon. The last time I had to disarm someone was when I was a lieutenant.

        That said, would I volunteer? I suppose I would, especially if it meant that either others would not have to, or that others would not be forced.

        The larger, more complex issues include a variety of things: teachers have a lot dumped in their laps already–students with mental health issues, homeless kids, those from what we used to call “broken” families (few of my students and almost none of my developmental students come from intact, two-parent, middle-class families with secure finances), those who are refugees or other immigrants whose grasp of English may be good enough to let them test out of our award-winning ESL program but not good enough for college writing–the list goes on. The attacks on teacher unions nationally have also undermined the professional status of teachers, and the budget woes of the whole K-20 enterprise are legion–yet teachers are still expected to work miracles with complicated students.

        Adding–“offer yourself up as a potential target for a mass shooter to save maybe some of your students” might be a step too far. We can talk about security all we want, and we can talk about protecting students, but we have to recognize that arming teachers simply makes them targets, too. I volunteered to do that in the Army, and was lucky I only served in one conflict where I had to cash that chip, potentially, but I knew that going in–I was happy to have them pay for my college education in return for that possibility. Today’s teachers did not make such a deal–and if the current administration push to eliminate the public service college loan debt forgiveness program bear fruit, then there is even less incentive to ask teachers to be armed.

        I also think about the logistics of this–the Texas program separates ammunition and weapon when instructors are in contact with students–in the classroom, in the halls, in the cafeteria, in the office–where AREN’T we in contact with students? So how long will it take for the “marshal” to retrieve ammunition and weapon and load and position him or herself to tackle a shooter? Might the marshal be a target on the way? And frangible bullets sound like a good idea unless the shooter is wearing a vest–like the Aurora one did. A frangible bullet will not knock out an armored target. In fact, the more I look at the specifics of the Texas program, the more I see it is a problematic one. It it like TSA–it is security theater.

        Another aspect to this is that teachers did not create this problem of increasingly easy access to firearms. That lies at the doorstep of the NRA and its political allies. So expecting people like me and my colleagues to become the solution to a problem we did not create is also a reason to oppose arming teachers and instead look at the systemic issues involved in easy access to weapons.

        I am sorry for providing such a long-winded answer to your straightforward question. But I do not think this issue admits to simple solutions, though I think we all wish it did.

          • Thanks for reading it. BRC and I went to college together and both served in the Army, though in different places at different times. We differ on many issues, but I know we do not differ on the importance of reasoned debate. I was grateful this blog offered me an opportunity to figure out my own thinking (at least at this point in time) by writing.

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