In response to assaults on educators, like the case of a college professor in Florida who was brutally beaten by a student in April 2014, legislation has been introduced in Texas that would guarantee public school teachers and university professors the right to use guns and paddles to keep their students in line.
However, another proposal would bar teachers from spanking or paddling unruly students.
Texas Sens. Donna Campbell (R) and Brian Birdwell (R) have introduced legislation intended to guarantee adults with concealed weapon permits have the firepower they need to protect themselves on state university campuses.
“DPS statistics clearly demonstrate that concealed handgun license holders are the safest, most responsible gun owners in Texas,” Campbell said in a statement. “It is time to stop the idiocy of creating unsafe zones that disarm the good guys while violent offenders break the law.”
Birdwell described the legislation as an affirmation of the right to self-defense, which he said was long overdue. Texas Rep. Allen Fletcher has sponsored companion legislation in the Texas House.
“As a retired Houston Police officer, I know that officers cannot be everywhere at all times. Campus police cannot be in every classroom or academic building,” Fletcher said. “As we have learned in the past, ‘gun-free zones’ have not been absent of crime.”
Texas Rep. Dan Flynn wants to take the guns and education theme a step further. This Republican would like to permit public school teachers to use handguns to protect themselves from students or anyone else who might prove to be dangerous.
Teachers would have the right to shoot if they feel they, their students, or the school’s property are in danger.
Flynn has been an outspoken voice for gun rights in the Texas Legislature. He pushed for a bill that would have allowed guns on college campuses and fought for legislation to reduce the number of training hours needed to get a concealed weapons permit.
“The Teacher Protection Act is a very simple bill, it has nothing to do with guns. But we do want to try to give the teachers a level of confidence that in the event they’re attacked in the classroom they can at least try to protect themselves,” Flynn told KWES-TV in Midland, Texas.
Flynn’s legislation would give teachers the right to use force, even deadly force, against a student in the classroom, on school property, on a school bus or at a school-sponsored event, like a football game.
Flynn said his proposal is the result of the stories of teachers being assaulted by students across the nation.
“If you take a young teacher or an older teacher, they walk in there, they’re in a room by themselves. When I go and talk to teachers, those are the certain fears that they have,” Flynn said, pointing to a YouTube video showing a teacher being attacked in New Jersey.
A Houston high school student put a substitute teacher in the hospital when his instructor had the nerve to tell the class to take an exam.
Louis Malfaro, president of the Texas Chapter of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), told the Texas Observer state educators would not support “another dumb idea like this.”
But at least one school system in Texas is already allowing teachers to come into classrooms heavy. The Argyle Independent School District gave permission to teachers to arm themselves with concealed weapons when the 2014-2015 scholastic year began.
However, teachers can only pack a gun if they have a concealed weapon permit and have passed a psychological evaluation, KDAF-TV reported.
The district also placed signs at schools in the district that read: “Attention: Please be aware that the staff at Argyle ISD are armed and may use whatever force is necessary to protect our students.”
Texas is not alone in this debate, nor is Argyle Independent the only school system with teachers wearing their holsters and guns in class.
KCUR Radio in Kansas City, Mo., reported some rural school systems in Missouri have been allowing their teachers to carry concealed weapons even though Gov. Jay Nixon (D) vetoed legislation that would have permitted that statewide.
“Arming teachers will not make our schools safer. I have supported and will continue to support the use of duly authorized law enforcement officers employed as school resource officers,” Nixon said. “But I cannot condone putting firearms in the hands of educators who should be focused on teaching our kids.”
Rep. Alma Allen (D) is on the far left of this political debate in Texas. She has introduced legislation that would “prohibit the use of corporal punishment in public primary and secondary schools.”
The head of the Texas State Rifle Association argued Allen’s proposal is a mistake. National Rifle Association Board member Charles Cotten wrote on his blog, as Talking Points Memo reported, that paddling a student “may keep me from having to put a bullet in him later.”