Texas governor expected to sign bill allowing unlimited armed marshals at schools

Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to sign the bill sent to him on Wednesday.

May 23, 2019, 4:56 AM

Texas is expected to approve a measure that allows school districts to deploy an unlimited number of armed marshals.

Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, is expected to sign a bill sent to him on Wednesday that removes a cap on armed guards at public schools, according to The Associated Press. Texas' current law limits the number of marshals to one per 200 students or one per building.

Texas created the school marshal program after the 2012 slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Schools in Texas weren't required to have marshals, and many that chose to add them didn't immediately do so, the AP reported. Some larger districts instead have contracts with local law enforcement agencies.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, right, holds hands with survivors during a dedication ceremony for a new sanctuary and memorial room at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, Sunday, May 19, 2019.
AP Photo/Eric Gay

Eight students and two substitute teachers were gunned down a year ago at a high school near Houston.

Texas had fewer than 40 certified school marshals across more than 1,000 public school districts in early 2018, the AP reported. Applications rose sharply after the slayings at Santa Fe, increasing that figure to nearly 200.

Florida, which endured the February 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that left 17 dead, recently approved increasing the number of teachers with guns.

Supporters of gun rights have argued marshals could save lives, while opponents have cited statistics denoting dozens of incidents of guns being mishandled at schools over the last five years.

A North Carolina teacher was arrested on Tuesday after threatening to shoot up her school.

"Arming teachers," Clay Robison, a spokesman for the Texas State Teachers' Association, told the AP, "is not the way to fight school violence."