Straw man argument. Even a commissioned law enforcement officer can be held criminally liable for shooting an unarmed person. An officer is only protected by government/school district sovereign immunity if the shooting is justified under the laws, regulations and policies in effect at the time of the incident.
Texas has a program in which a teacher or school staff member who completes a state-specified training course at an approved police academy receives a special appointment as a marshal, law enforcement officer with full police powers, including arrest, in a threat situation. In Texas, a reserve law enforcement officer or deputy is required to perform a certain number of hours as a regular uniformed officer to retain their license. The marshal program does not have this additional obligation.
In addition, there is a special provision in the program that allows school marshals to remain anonymous and prohibits the release of any person information about them.
The downside is that the required training is estimated to cost about $5,000, a cost that has to be borne by the school district, and the state has made no provision to fund it. This means districts that are already strapped for funds have to make cuts elsewhere. Frankly, school districts have already had to make too many cuts as the Texas Legislature spends much of its abbreviated sessions striving to reduce property taxes, which are the sole source of funding for public schools.
This is the same problem with calls for metal detectors, more cameras and other measures.
Since armed teachers are a reality, specialized training should be a requirement. However, it is unfair and unrealistic to expect teachers to cover the cost of the training themselves. Texas doesn’t even allow armed teachers to enjoy the discount on License to Carry permit fees offered to retired law enforcement officers, retired judges, or veterans or the no-cost license for law enforcement officers. Gun manufacturers don’t extend their generous law enforcement discount programs to armed teachers or school staff.
In short, the teacher is on the hook for the cost of the firearm, the required LTC training course, and the full price of the license itself. The school district has only to pay for the cost of the background check, much of which was completed by the Department of Public Safety when the teacher was licensed, and the cost of the psychological evaluation.
A single metal detector suitable for a school runs somewhere between $4,000 and $5,000 per entrance. At most, a basic armed teacher costs perhaps a couple of hundred dollars (because it’s a quasi-government entity, the district has no costs involved with the background check). They don’t even get a bonus for volunteering.
By comparison, a commissioned/licensed school resource officer costs about $145,000 per year.
It’s recommended that there be a minimum of one dedicated, full-time school resource officer per elementary school and two per secondary school, which tend to be larger.
To meet those standards would require the hiring of more than 128,000 new officers with an average annual cost of $18.6 billion.
The cost of two metal detectors for each public school comes to about $878 million.
To meet those standards with well-trained armed teachers would run a bit more than $642 million.
To meet those standards with an armed teacher with only a gun and the skills required to meet state carry licensing requirements would cost about $32 million nationwide, mostly for vetting.
Guess which one is likeliest to get the nod from a school district.
It’s all well and good to call for more school resource officers, more training for armed teachers and staff, metal detectors, and other defensive measures, but nobody seems to be stepping up to the plate with a way to pay for them.
The federal government doesn’t have the regulatory authority to demand training; that’s a power reserved to the states. However, it does have the authority to allocate funds for public school districts.
Unfortunately, a funding bills must originate in the House of Representatives which is still divided over whether there should even be armed teachers, despite the fact the first armed teacher programs were first put in place in 2007.
Remember the stink that was raised when Education Secretary Betsy DeVos suggested using federal funds to pay for guns for armed teachers? Don’t expect any less of an uproar if she suggests funding to train armed teachers.
Thanks to the Bloomborgs and the the National Education Association, the whole issue has become toxic. Despite an outstanding record of safety, the scary fantasies prevail.
In addition to volunteering to put their lives on the line to protect students; undergo background checks and psychological evaluations; bearing the full cost of being armed; and not receiving any additional pay, benefits, or even recognition, armed teachers are now being portrayed as a threat.
There’s a word for that but manners don’t allow me to use it here.