Student Groups Angry that They are Kept Out of School Safety Discussions

As state officials discuss ways to deal with school violence, a group of students who are active in the anti gun movement are angry that they have not been invited to participate, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Conor Heffernan with the group 'March for our Lives,' which staged a well attended anti gun rally at City Hall following the Parkland Florida shooting in February, says the National Rifle Association has been invited and the anti gun students have not.

"That action speaks louder and with more authenticity than any of the governor's comments following the tragedy in Santa Fe," he said.

The group says universal background checks and a ban on 'assault-style' rifles would be a good start toward making schools safer.  While Gov. Abbott and the Legislature have discussed solidifying the background check system and having more counselors in schools, gun restrictions have not been on the table.  As a matter of fact, most of the proposals which are moving forward for Legislative consideration include placing more armed people in schools.

Heffernan says 'doing the right thing' is 'just as Texan as owning a gun.'"I hope that the governor decides to be the Texan I know he can be, and that he listens to the majority of us who believe in common sense solutions," he said.

What appears to be gaining steam as the Senate Select Committee on School Safety opens hearings on the proposals is expanding the 'school marshal' program, where current school employees can take special courses and be authorized to carry guns in the school.

"The people who are going to be school marshals actually work with school police officers, and they actively work with school police," Kim Vickers, who heads the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, which oversees training for police officers and auxiliaries, like school marshals.

Wylie ISD's Craig Bassett was one of the state's first school marshals when he began patrolling schools in the north Dallas suburb shortly after the Texas Legislature created the School Marshal program in 2013.

"The best attempt to mitigate and to stop a mass casualty is to have someone on the inside of a school building," he told the Committee.

Groups that provide the 80 hours of mandatory training required of school marshals are ramping up to provide increased training following the Santa Fe shooting.

"Police officers and entitites all across the country have been wanting to emulate the Texas school marshal program," Vickers said.

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