Texas House passes bill requiring armed security in all schools
AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas House overwhelmingly passed a new school security bill that would require, among other things, armed security in all Texas schools. A Democrat who represents Uvalde says the bill doesn't go far enough.
"Listen I'm angry, I've got PTSD. These families are just destroyed," said State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio.
Gutierrez, who also represents Uvalde, doesn't think Republican lawmakers are doing enough to help pass what he refers to as "meaningful gun safety legislation" this session.
"We can start where we can start with 18,19 , 20-year-olds eliminate the AR15s, universal background orders and extreme risk protective orders. This isn't rocket science it's easy. But they don't want to do it," he said.
Gutierrez made the comments at a news conference in Austin Tuesday, the same day House Bill 3 passed on a third and final reading by a vote of 119 to 25.
The final vote was very similar to Monday night when the bill's author debated the merits of the bill for hours on the House floor.
"I'm going to tell you this is not the focus of this bill," said State Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock.
Burrows said the focus of HB3 is to beef up school safety, including hiring at least one armed security officer at every campus.
It also provides incentives for school employees to get certified to carry a weapon.
"The teachers we personally interviewed in the hallway who talked about them going into school the next year did ask for some ability for someone defending and protecting that," said Burrows.
Under the current language of the bill, a school district could arm a teacher to meet the requirements of having an armed officer at every campus.
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Gutierrez is skeptical about that.
"I'm just not happy with the volunteer, weekend warrior cop. No offense," he said.
Gutierrez pointing out that dozens of armed law enforcement officers waited 77 minutes before taking out the gunman at Robb Elementary.
19 children and two teachers died.
Burrows believes his bill, which also includes adding silent panic buttons in every classroom, does plenty to beef up school safety. The $1.6 billion bill costs well above the original estimate of $300 million.
"There is not a solution, there is not the solution, there is a bucket of solutions," said Rep. Burrows.
"I've tried to be nice, I've tried to be mean I've tried everything I can to move bills forward that are about gun safety solutions, and we've got none," said Sen. Gutierrez.
A similar bill school safety bill passed the Senate last week.
The next step would be for the two bills to go to a committee, where details would be hashed out.
It is unclear whether lawmakers will listen to Uvalde families who want to raise the minimum age to purchase semi-automatic guns from 18 to 21. The bill that would do that had a hearing in the House last week, but faces stiff opposition from Republicans.