The Texas Plan for School Safety

I took some time to really read the plan put forward by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, and, setting aside all of the craziness that followed its release, I looked at this in the spirit of searching for the best answers to a horrendous problem. Like anyone else, I looked at this and saw a lot that I could stand behind 100%, and some of it that made my teeth itch. Here is what I took from the report, with some of the subsections removed:

  1. IMMEDIATE FUNDING ASSISTANCE TO SANTA FE
  2. IMMEDIATELY INCREASE LAW ENFORCEMENT PRESENCE AT SCHOOLS
  3. TRAIN MORE SCHOOL MARSHALS AND IMPROVE THE PROGRAM
  4. PROVIDE ACTIVE SHOOTER AND EMERGENCY RESPONSE TRAINING
  5. HARDENING OF CAMPUS FACILITIES
  6. PRIORITIZE INCREASED FEDERAL FUNDING TOWARD IMMEDIATE SCHOOL SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS
  7. STRENGTHEN EXISTING CAMPUS SECURITY PROGRAMS
  8. PROVIDE MENTAL HEALTH EVALUATIONS THAT IDENTIFY STUDENTS AT RISK OF HARMING OTHERS AND PROVIDE THEM THE HELP THEY NEED
  9. INCREASE MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID TRAINING
  10. PROVIDE SCHOOLS WITH BEHAVIORAL THREAT ASSESSMENT PROGRAMS
  11. BETTER UTILIZE AND EXPAND ON-CAMPUS COUNSELING RESOURCES
  12. EXPAND CAMPUS CRIME STOPPERS PROGRAMS
  13. USE DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY TO PREVENT ATTACKS
  14. DEPLOY MORE FUSION CENTERS TO MONITOR SOCIAL MEDIA FOR THREATS
  15. IMPROVE MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS RESPONSE INFRASTRUCTURE
  16. INCREASE THE SAFETY OF CHARTER SCHOOLS
  17. REMOVE FROM THE CLASSROOM STUDENTS WHO THREATEN TEACHERS
  18. ENHANCING FIREARMS SAFETY
  19. CLOSE CRITICAL INFORMATION GAPS TO HELP PREVENT SHOOTINGS LIKE
    THAT IN SUTHERLAND SPRINGS
  20. STUDY A PROTECTIVE ORDER LAW TO KEEP GUNS OUT OF THE HANDS OF
    THOSE MENTALLY UNFIT TO BEAR ARMS, BUT ONLY AFTER LEGAL DUE
    PROCESS IS ALLOWED TO ENSURE SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS ARE NOT
    VIOLATED
  21. MANDATE A 48-HOUR REPORTING PERIOD TO CLOSE GAPS IN FEDERALLY
    MANDATED BACKGROUND CHECKS
  22. STRENGTHENING THE SAFE FIREARM STORAGE LAW
  23. PROMOTE AWARENESS OF SAFE STORAGE PRACTICES
  24. MANDATORY REPORTING OF LOST OR STOLEN GUNS

Some of the points I really like. Hiring retired Police and Military to protect the campuses is something I have long advocated. These are people with far above average experience with firearms and firearm safety, and also people who would find great honor in protecting the kids. Providing room for Police to drop in on schools to do paperwork etc. is a great idea and would also serve to show students that Police are not the evil doers that are portrayed in the media, and allow the children to see Police as people.

The School Marshal plan, another fantastic idea. Of course, there were immediate cries from Teachers who do not want to be armed at school, but they were knee-jerk reacting, a quick read would show that this is for those teachers who want to be armed, and go through the certification process. No forcing of anyone, and no one unqualified. This I can support 100%. In this section were some recommendations to remove some of the more trivial parts of the certification course, and instead place the focus on applicable training.

The funding for immediate school safety improvements was attacked by some people I know, but there is no logical basis for being against this. Funding safety improvements, I’m all for it.

Some of the ideas in the plan are outside of my field of study and experience, so I will simply not comment on them.

There was a lot of animosity by gun rights groups about number 20 and the idea of keeping guns out of the hands of those unfit to possess them, while still trying to protect their rights to due process under the law. Personally, I not only think that if a person cannot be trusted to not kill people if they have a gun, they should not be allowed to have a gun, but they should also be locked away in prison because, in the end, a gun is a tool. If someone wants to kill people, lack of legal access to a gun is not going to stop them. I also see the possibility of this part of the plan being abused. An angry ex could simply file a report that their former love is a danger to themselves and/or others, and then here comes a long court process. I understand the sentiment behind the idea but such laws look like a slippery slope for a reason.

If 23 is effective, you have no need for 22. I don’t need a law mandating that I store my firearms safely. I already do that because I am a responsible adult. I also find 24 to be unnecessary. If I come home and find that my guns have been stolen, my first act will be to notify the Police. Not because of a law to do so, but because my stuff was stolen! But, I am a grown-up…

So, yeah, there are parts of the plan I am totally behind and parts of it that I don’t like. There are also parts that sound good, but as I don’t know enough about the details, I prefer to look into it further. In our…contentious day and age, no plan put forward by anyone at all is going to be 100% perfect in the eyes of everyone. That instant rejection based solely on the source is a major failing of our time.

I provided a link at the beginning of this post to allow you to read the actual text and make an informed decision and create an intelligent opinion. If you read the text and find me wrong on all counts, fine! We can hash it out over coffee sometime. But if you don’t bother to read, and instead argue talking points you read on Twitter or Facebook, don’t expect to be taken seriously.

In the end, all of this is only covering the legal part of the issue. At its core, we have a humanity problem, and a self-absorbed fame-seeking culture with no respect for life. Until and unless that is recognized and dealt with, I fear that things will not get better. And there is no way to legislate people into being good to one another. That comes from upbringing. Getting from where we are now to where we need to be will take time and effort. Laws will have to be enacted, but We The People will need to do the heavy lifting because any significant change will begin at home.

Be nice to each other.

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