Back to School and... Guns
In Texas, late August is known for several things, the “Dog Days of Summer” because the already oppressive heat is kicked up a notch and joined by humid stickiness, and the beginning of the school year for most students. Along with orientations, back-to-school meetings, high school football games, and the like, students will be welcomed with a much less pleasant addition, guns.
In Texas, much has been discussed about the State Legislature’s (i.e. Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick) diagnosis of how to address the increase in school shootings, including the Santa Fe school shooting earlier this year. This diagnosis has included limiting the amount of doors in schools so that there are fewer points of entry to monitor for wannabe shooters access and increasing the number of metal detectors. Lt Gov. Patrick was even generous enough to donate a few metal detectors to Santa Fe High School.
Of course, this being Texas, solutions to safety came around pretty quickly to, yep, you guessed it, guns. One way many schools are addressing the issue of school safety is a, until now, little known program called the School Marshal Program, which is run by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement. The program was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 and, according to a KUT (Austin Public Radio) article, the program is on pace to double its enrollment this year to about 165 school marshals. This program trains teachers to be and armed a law enforcement marshal for their respective school, complete with 80 hours of training.
Now, I understand the desire and even the logical argument for using guns as a potential piece to the school safety puzzle, but here is my issue, most Texas citizens likely don’t even know the school marshal program exists, let alone that their child’s school might have a marshal. However, it’s troubling that such a program could exist and be expanded without parents having any idea if their child’s school is using it and which teachers are designated as marshals.
Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty or security.” It would seem to me that in the interest of obtaining security, the Texas Legislature, through this school marshals program, has given up the liberty of parents and students to choose whether or not they want more guns at their school. This program is five years old and until the Santa Fe High School shooting, I’d wager most Texans had never heard of it.
Perhaps it’s time that we Texans remembered the cost of democracy for all citizens, vigilance.
Cornell Woolridge is the founder and President of CivicSolve, LLC. He's been an active proponent of increasing access and lowering the barrier to civic engagement for even longer with his increasing involvement in numerous political campaigns, as well as down right boots on the ground protesting. He currently resides in Austin, Texas with his Wife Candace and their dog Jack; where he is continuing to expand CivicSolve's future projects and provide his own personal insight along the way.