Guns In Schools

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Federal education officials are considering letting school districts use federal money to buy guns for educators — and the idea may have come from Texas, according to national education outlet Education Week.

Rachel Zein for The Texas Tribune

Wylie Independent School District prepares for armed intruders in a variety of ways, from active shooter drills to safety-themed coloring books. Some school staff are trained to be armed marshals and are ready to shoot if there's a threat.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A group of law enforcement officers told Texas senators today that they don't think the governor's plan to “harden” schools is the best way to keep students safe.

“Give us more campus officers,” Joe Curiel, police chief for San Antonio Independent School District Police Department, told the Senate Select Committee on Violence in Schools and School Security.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

As Texas debates what, if any, steps should be taken to prevent mass shootings in the state, we asked our audience what questions they had about guns in schools.

A common question was whether why regulations on automatic weapons differ from those regulating semiautomatic ones:

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Gov. Greg Abbott laid out a plan this morning to increase school safety in Texas after the Santa Fe High School shooting. The plan offered suggestions that focused on “hardening schools” and increasing mental health services through as much as $120 million in federal and state grants for schools.

Nobody in Texas "wants to see another occasion where innocent children are gunned down in their own schools,” he said as he rolled out the 40-page plan at the Dallas Independent School District headquarters.

Eleven days after the shooting that killed eight students and two teachers in a small Texas town, classes are back in session at Santa Fe High School.

Students from the neighboring Alvin school district arrived on school buses today holding signs of support. Others from the community lined the highway to the school.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Grace Johnson, a senior at Santa Fe High School, said she was in the band room when the fire alarm went off last Friday. She got up to evacuate.

“When I walk out into the hallway, I see a kid get shot,” she told Gov. Greg Abbott and others gathered at the Capitol on Thursday for the third in a series of roundtable discussions on school safety. “And he falls. In Santa Fe, we know what guns sounds like ... but you never think it’s going to be in the school.”

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT

As Texas debates what, if any, steps should be taken to prevent mass shootings in the state, we asked our audience what questions they had about guns in schools.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is hosting three roundtable discussions this week in response to the school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas. The first roundtable, held Tuesday, focused on "school and community safety."

The meeting was private, but afterward Abbott read reporters “a list of suggestions and ideas that came out of" the discussions.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott today convened the first of three roundtable discussions on "school and community safety" in response to Friday's school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas.

Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott started a series of roundtable discussions today, aimed at coming up with ways to address school shootings.

A Pakistani exchange student was one of the 10 people shot dead in the Santa Fe High School shooting on Friday. She came from a country where militants have attacked schools and killed students, so her death — in a country that once seemed so much safer than Pakistan — shocked many in her home country.

Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT

On Friday, Santa Fe, Texas, was the site of the latest mass shooting at a school in the U.S. Ten people were killed and 13 injured after a 17-year-old student entered the school with his father's shotgun and handgun.

Gabriel C. Perez / KUT

Thousands of Austin students walked out of class today and marched to the state Capitol to participate in a nationwide call for action on gun violence.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Hundreds of high school students in Austin are planning to walk out of school tomorrow and rally outside the Capitol as part of a nationwide walkout to call for more gun control and better school safety.

Austin Price for KUT

A couple dozen Austin students held a town hall meeting with local lawmakers at William B. Travis High School on Sunday to discuss ways to reduce gun violence – particularly at schools.

Nearly three-fourths of U.S. teachers do not want to carry guns in school, and they overwhelmingly favor gun control measures over security steps meant to "harden" schools, according to a new Gallup poll.

Updated at 5:10 p.m. ET

At South High School in Columbus, Ohio, students stepped outside in frigid weather and said 17 names, releasing a balloon for each one.

In Orange County, Fla., 17 empty desks sat in the Wekiva High School courtyard. Students sang — "Heal the world, make it a better place."

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

After the Columbine school shooting in 1999, the Texas Legislature created the School Safety Center, a research center at Texas State University that helps schools prepare for different kinds of disasters.

flickr.com/phillipleconte

Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

The shooting left 20 students and six adults dead. It also caused school districts and lawmakers across the country to re-examine security protocols in schools – including Texas. 

“When you talk about Sandy Hook Elementary and what happened that day – I think that a lot of people believe that it created or caused a reaction by law enforcement, first responders – that somehow changed from what we had been doing," says Austin School District Police Chief Eric Mendez.

flickr.com/robertnelson

The controversial policy of allowing armed marshals at public schools could soon be a reality for some Texas school districts. Under a new law passed during the most recent legislative session, school administrators may designate a trained employee to act as school marshal, authorized to carry a concealed handgun to respond in emergency situations.

Gov. Rick Perry signed House Bill 1009, also known as the Protection of Children Act, into law this June. Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, penned the bill in response to the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

Texas is a gun-friendly state. I’m not telling you anything you didn’t already know. That fact is easy to see during any given legislative session, when bills are often filed expanding where people can carry in the state.

KUT News

Update: The Senate Education Committee approved a bill Thursday that would pay to train teachers and employees who carry weapons on school property.

There’s a new push for a cap on the cost for the training, but now it looks like even that would be more than enough.

The bill would rely mainly on private donations. If there’s not enough private funding, the state would allocate one million. Senator Dan Patrick (R- Harris County) is sponsoring the bill. He says out a the entire state budget, one million for security is worth it. 

A task force launched by the National Rifle Association after the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown, Conn., has come back with a report that recommends the creation of programs that give additional weapons training to school resource officers as well as "selected and designated school personnel" who could then carry arms.

Texas Tribune

Lawmakers considered two handgun-related bills today.

Under a bill by Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, out-of-state concealed-carry handgun permits would not be valid in Texas. At a public hearing today, John Woods of Texas Gun Sense said out-of-state businesses are marketing permits to Texas residents as an easier way to get a concealed handgun license.

“They advertise on Facebook and Google,” Woods said. “It would be better if there were a more substantive requirement.”

Update at 11:15 a.m. ET: Senate Passes Measure:

The Associated Press reports that the committee cast a 10-8 party-line vote, with all Republicans opposed, on the measure to expand a requirement of background checks for gun sales between private parties.

The Associated Press reports:

"The bill's sponsor, New York Democrat Sen. Charles Schumer, said the measure will reduce gun crimes, and said he hopes he can strike a compromise on the measure with Republicans, which would enhance the measure's chances of passing in the full Senate.

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

The December school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut left the nation stunned and  grief-stricken – and scared it could happen again.

Texas lawmakers have filed a handful of bills they say could increase security for students and peace of mind for parents. But some say those bills are more show than substance.

"A couple of bills are obviously just designed to appeal to the NRA while making it appear that they’re trying to make schools safer, when in fact they wouldn’t," says Texas State Teachers Association spokesman Clay Robison.

Investigators trying to piece together a motive in December's killings in Newtown, Conn., believe that 20-year-old shooter Adam Lanza may have been inspired by a similar 2011 massacre in Norway.

The Hartford Courant and CBS News report that authorities searching through Lanza's belongings after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary discovered several news articles about Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway in July 2011.

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

Texas lawmakers have rallied around the idea of making elementary schools safer. There have been calls to allow anyone with a concealed handgun license to bring guns onto public school campuses. Or for teachers to get concealed carry licenses.

The latest idea comes from a bill filed by State Representative Jason Villalba (R-Dallas). He wanted to know what schools and professional school security organizations wanted.

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