Texas lawmakers are coming together to talk about school safety this afternoon.
The Senate Committee on Education is meeting with the Committee on Agriculture, Rural Affairs and Homeland Security to review current student safety policies and to discuss the potential for any policy changes.
Senators will hearing from both the public and experts about how improvements can be made to school safety.
The meeting comes at the request of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst:
"With the increased violence we've seen in public schools in recent years, we must do everything we can to protect the safety and well-being of our most precious possession — our children. I'm asking the Texas Senate to consider various school safety proposals, including providing state funds to make sure that school personnel approved by local school districts to carry concealed firearms have adequate training to protect our children and themselves," Dewhurst said in a statement earlier this month.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has requested schools review their current safety plans.
Some school districts have already taken action to allow school staff to carry weapons. Two weeks ago, the school board at Union Grove ISD– just outside Longview –voted to become the second in the state to allow trained staff members to carry concealed handguns on campus.
Now, Gatesville Independent School District- 100 miles north of Austin -is considering a similar policy. A survey conducted by the school district found 78 percent of the 234 district employees polled said “employees should be able to carry a firearm on campus.” However, there was a wide array of opinions as to whom should carry firearms: opinions varied from “all” to “full-time security guards only.”
The renewed focus on school safety policies is clearly in response to the Newtown, Conn. mass shooting. But, even before the massacre, changes to gun laws were already on the minds of some Texas lawmakers. At least five bills on the topic had been filed by mid-December.
The public hearing is happening at 2 p.m. (or 30 minutes after the adjournment of the senate) in the Senate Chamber.