Texas bill to allow use of deadly force by teachers against students

Sometimes these various bits of state gun legislation get a bit confusing for me. In Texas is it apparently already legal for teachers to employ “reasonable force” in disciplinary situations and be protected from legal repercussions. (Good for them.) That applies to normal situations of “discipline” and maintaining order, though.. not a full blown crisis or attack. But in a new bill under consideration in the Lone Star State, deadly force would garner similar protection in the courts under appropriate circumstances.

A proposed bill would allow teachers in Texas to use deadly force against students and be protected from any kind of prosecution.

The Teacher’s Protection Act would allow these teachers to use force against students or anyone else on school grounds if they feel threatened. Educators would avoid prosecution for “injury or death that results from the educator’s use of deadly force” under the new legislation.

Texas law already protects teachers from disciplinary measures if they use reasonable force against a student. The law proposed by Republican Rep. Dan Flynn would allow deadly force.

Association of Texas Professional Educators managing attorney Paul Tapp told the Houston Chronicle that teachers in the state already have some legal protections that allow them to use force under reasonable circumstances.

I’m obviously not saying this is a bad idea, but I find myself struggling a bit to identify precisely what the goal here is. If you are already allowing teachers to carry in the class (and that’s the case in Texas, though the decision remains on a district by district basis) then the decision to use force would also be on a case by case basis and require some common sense. If there is a big, violent student who is armed, whether it be with a gun, a knife or any other potentially lethal weapon, then lethal force may be needed to bring the situation under control. A couple of kids fighting in the hall isn’t going to warrant breaking out the big iron.

The point is, if you’ve taken the cautionary step of allowing qualified teachers to protect the students (and themselves) by carrying, doesn’t that already carry with it some sort of protection in court for the teacher in question, at least in terms of prosecution? (Perhaps it doesn’t… I’m just asking.) I’m not sure if this would apply to protection from civil suits brought by the parents. At least it doesn’t sound like it would, but some lawyers may want to weigh in on that one.

Armed teachers or in-school marshals are always going to be able to respond in a crisis faster than the police. Of course, you want them to be properly trained and ready. Such was the case with Argyle Independent School District who ensured that teachers only carried after they underwent firearm and emergency response training, passed a psychological evaluation and obtained a firearms license. That sounds like a sensible model for most schools, but if the teachers feel better with additional legal protection from prosecution if things go from worse to worst in a crisis, perhaps this will be a plus for them.