Texas Senators Hold Hearing on Guns in Schools

Educators, police officers and state officials weighed in Monday during a Senate hearing on proposals to arm teachers to prevent the kind of horror that took place last month at a Connecticut elementary school from happening in Texas.

At a hearing where witnesses on both sides of the issue emphasized the need for individual school districts to set their own policies to meet their communities' needs, the upper chamber's education committee chairman, Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, acknowledged that state law could be "ambiguous" when it comes to firearms policies.

State law requires public school districts to adopt an emergency operations plan that includes employee training and mandatory drills for students and employees. School boards can also grant permission to anyone, including employees, to carry firearms on campus under the federal Gun-Free Schools Act and state law.

But the law could offer conflicting guidance on enforcing security, said David Anderson, the Texas Education Agency's general counsel.

"Obviously, some school districts read the penal code provision as saying, if some of our teachers with concealed handgun permits happen to bring them to school, that's okay. But another provision in the educational code says here's how you create a police force," Anderson said. "Those two don't mesh real well. That's probably a good thing to clarify."

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