El Pasoans react to proposed state-funded weapons training for Texas teachers

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POSTED: Monday, January 14, 2013 - 11:50pm

UPDATED: Thursday, December 19, 2013 - 10:34am

El Pasoans react to a controversial plan from one of the state's top leaders. Texas' Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst said he wants state-funded weapons training for Texas teachers.

"I think that's a good idea. I think we'll be more protected but if they will put it in a safe lock then it would be good to where the kids won't grab it," said a parent outside Lamar Elementary.

"I think if they're properly trained, I don't have a problem with it," said another parent outside El Paso High School.

The people who send their kids to school think it’s a good idea, but the ones who are responsible for the kids while they're there, think differently.

"Putting guns in teacher's hands… I don't think it's going to save lives. I think it could hurt people more than it could help them," said Ross Middle School teacher Patricia Amezagea.

"Guns have no position on a campus," said Norma De La Rosa, President of the El Paso Teachers Association.

In light of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst was calling for weapons training for teachers. Under his plan, school districts would nominate personnel they would want to carry weapons on campus. Those employees would then undergo extensive training to handle an active shooter situation.

Amezagea has been a physical education teacher at EPISD's Ross Middle School for more than 20 years. If she was chosen to carry a gun, she would say no.

"I don't think me having a gun is going to save anybody with somebody who comes in with rifle or a machine gun," said Amezagea. "Could I turn around and shoot someone? Could I shoot a student? Could I shoot a 13-year-old whose threatening people with a gun? I don't know. I don't know if I can. All I know is that my job is to protect them as much as I can."

Dewhurst proposes the training would be paid for with state funds.

The president of the El Paso Teachers Association said there's a better way to spend the money.

"We just feel that the money could be better used elsewhere, back in the classroom considering that $5.4 billion were cut from the last legislative session," said De La Rosa. "The fact that he wants to arm teachers does not necessarily mean that it's going to make it any safer or that it may not happen again."

At this point, it's unclear how much money would go toward training. Dewhurst said the amount of state funding needed would depend on the number of school districts that want to participate.

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As a teacher myself, I do not think arming teachers with guns is the answer to violence in our schools. I totally agree with one of your interviewees: Shooting a student who is armed with a weapon would be very difficult. Thank you Cathy for getting the opinion of a couple of teachers, who think that arming teachers is absolutely not the answer.

I absolutely agree with Dewhurst. I would be petrified to send my children to school these days!

Norma De La Rosa should be removed as head of the Teachers Union.

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