Senate Bill (SB) 741 by state Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) would allow the officials to keep their weapons holstered at all schools. It passed out of the Senate with the support of every Republican and one Democrat, Sen. Juan Chuy Hinojosa (D-McAllen). All other Senate Democrats voted against it.
Under current Texas Education Code, marshals that have direct, regular contact with students must keep their handguns stowed in a locked safe within their reach. This applies to private schools as well as public schools and community colleges.
Birdwell’s SB 741 would strike this restriction from the code for private schools, public schools, and public junior colleges. Another smaller but overlapping bill by state Rep. Scott Sanford (R-McKinney) would only apply to public junior colleges.
The bills do not change the provision that school marshals may only use their handguns “under circumstances that would justify the use of deadly force.”
When both bills passed through the House, Democrats proposed and supported amendments to only let the bills take effect in districts that approve them in a local election. Both amendments failed.
Concern for young students drove several Democrats away from supporting Birdwell’s wider SB 741, which passed out of the House with 91 ayes and lean bipartisan support from nine Democrats: Reps. Elizabeth Campos (D-San Antonio), Terry Canales (D-Edinburg), Barbara Gervin-Hawkins (D-San Antonio), Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City), Abel Herrero (D-Robstown), Ina Minjarez (D-San Antonio), Eddie Morales (D-Eagle Pass), Richard Peña Raymond (D-Laredo), and Tracy King (D-Laredo).
Sanford’s proposal, on the other hand, passed with 104 ayes.
Some Democrats in the Texas legislature have shown a pattern of support for loosening weapons laws. Guillen, King, Raymond, and Canales all supported constitutional carry. Occasionally, more modest proposals even find Democratic authors and co-authors, such as Rep. Harold Dutton’s (D-Houston) bill to lengthen the list of places where knives may be carried.
Birdwell’s bill would take effect at the beginning of the upcoming 2021-2022 school year. Sanford’s bill would take effect immediately.
The state legislature has also approved a bill to allow firearm suppressors on college campuses.
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