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Texas teachers want protections that don't include guns in classrooms, survey finds

Protesters calling on lawmakers to take action to stop gun violence marched to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's Austin office on May 31.
Renee Dominguez
/
KUT
Protesters calling on lawmakers to take action to stop gun violence marched to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's Austin office on May 31.

Texas educators want legislators to implement gun control measures that don't require arming teachers, according to a new survey.

After the school shooting in Uvalde last month, Texas AFT — the state affiliate of the national union the American Federation of Teachers — surveyed 4,673 Texans working in K-12 schools and higher education to take their pulse on what changes they want to see.

Ninety percent of survey respondents said they were worried about a shooting happening at their school. Forty-two percent said that the most recent event in Uvalde made them question if they would return to school in the fall.

While politicians such as Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton have suggested training and arming teachers as a solution, 77% of survey respondents, most of whom were K-12 teachers, said they don’t want to be armed or expected to intercept a gunman.

Katrina Rasmussen, a Dallas Independent School District teacher and member of Alliance AFT, said having a gun in her classroom would be a bad idea.

“Truly, I cannot imagine myself or one of my hallway neighbors keeping a gun safe in a classroom filled with 30-plus teenagers in the aftermath of a global pandemic that has left us all traumatized and easily triggered already,” she said.

Citing research from Everytown For Gun Safety, an education and advocacy group for gun safety, she said weapons are more likely to be fired accidentally or improperly than to neutralize a threat in the classroom.

More than 96% of survey respondents wanted to see policy changes, including requiring comprehensive background checks for people purchasing guns, implementing red flag laws to prevent people who are going through extreme emotional or mental health issues from buying a gun, and raising the minimum age to buy a gun to 21.

Eighty-three percent of those surveyed wanted a ban on assault weapons.

Nicole Hill, a spokesperson with Texas AFT, said the survey results show there is support for gun reform in Texas.

“It’s categorically false to say that gun reform cannot pass in Texas [or] does not have support in Texas,” Hill said.

The group is calling on state and federal lawmakers to enact changes.

“If you’re not in the classroom every day, you just don’t know how each shooting changes the students,” Rasmussen said. “It changes the staff. There’s a shadow over everything we do, and that shadow grows each time one of these incidents happens.”

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