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Texas Governor Signs Bill Allowing More Armed Teachers

Texas governor Greg Abbott (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a law Thursday allowing more teachers to carry firearms and expands mental health services for students in the wake of the mass shooting last year at a high school near Houston.

The bill removed the previous on the number of armed teachers allowed on school campuses of one per every 200 students or one per school. The measure also encourages schools to train teachers to recognize mental health issues among students, increase the number of mental health counselors at schools, and install “threat assessment teams” to track potential threats from students.

Ten people were fatally shot and 13 more wounded at at Santa Fe High School near Houston in May of last year, the sixth most deadly school shooting in U.S. history.

Abbott, a Republican, has made school safety a priority since then, but the legislature has focused on campus security and mental health rather than gun control, passing measures approving metal detectors, and shooter alarm systems among other means to secure schools.

Teachers who wish to participate in Texas’s school armed marshal program, which was implemented after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012 must undergo active shooter drills as well as 80 hours of training. School marshals must keep their weapons locked up and away from students unless their main job does not involve “regular, direct contact with students,” in which case they are allowed to carry a concealed firearm.

Florida passed a controversial measure last month allowing classroom teachers to carry firearms in school, although many districts opted out, including Broward County, where the mass shooting that killed 17 at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School occurred last year.

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