School safety legislation that would provide crisis training for school employees who are authorized to carry concealed handguns on campus was approved Thursday by the Senate Education Committee. The measure by Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, would provide limited state funding for a training program that would be offered to any public schools in the state – including charter schools – that do not have their own police or security officers. The proposal is intended to supplement existing law, which allows school districts to assign certain employees with a concealed handgun license to carry a weapon on campus to protect students. Just a few rural districts in the state have utilized the law.
Patrick said his bill was made necessary by school shootings in recent years, notably the massacre of 26 children and adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut last December. Patrick said the legislation would enable school employees who are authorized to carry handguns to better protect children on their campus. The measure would not affect the 180 school districts in Texas that have their own police force to patrol schools. The Texas Department of Public Safety would help develop the training program, which would be offered to school employees through concealed handgun license instructors. State officials said the training would be about 16 hours in addition to what is now required to receive a handgun license.