AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas schools could train teachers as armed marshals to exchange gunfire with potential attackers under a bill approved by state lawmakers and sent to Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday, while a key lawmaker said attempts to allow concealed handgun license holders to carry their weapons into college classrooms is likely dead.
A bipartisan 28-3 Senate vote gave final approval to the marshals bill, which was proposed after the December mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. It had already passed the House over the objection of the Texas State Teachers Association.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, a Republican, had pushed lawmakers to help school districts provide teachers or other employees with special weapons and tactical response training.
The bill allows school districts and charter schools to place one armed marshal on campus for every 400 students. After 80 hours of training, the marshals could bring a weapon on campus. Their identities would not be subject to public records law.
Marshals working directly with students would have to keep their guns in a lockbox "within immediate reach," according to the measure. Marshals not working with students would be allowed to carry concealed weapons.
Although many larger school districts employ their own police forces, many smaller districts cannot afford to do so. In testimony early in the session, several small rural districts said they needed marshals or armed teachers to protect students because police response might be too slow in a shooting incident.