EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — With threats against El Paso area schools continuing to be an issue, an El Paso licensed-to-carry instructor is advocating for local schools to have armed teachers.
“They have to pass a very extensive shooting test and then they have to attend a 15 to 20 hours course. And then once they qualify, they have to apply with DPS to get certified,” said El Paso license to carry instructor Ben Cheng.
Cheng explains that through a program called “Texas School Guardian”, teachers in El Paso who volunteer to be armed must already have their license to carry in order to go through the additional training.
“Once they are qualified and certified then they are allowed to carry on campus and just like any other concealed carrier, nobody knows who they are,” said Cheng.
An El Paso area middle school teacher tells KTSM she has her license to carry and wants to be able to take the training to carry a gun on campus.
“The biggest reason is I want a fighting chance, all we do is run and hide,” said the teacher who wanted to remain anonymous.
“We don’t stand a chance and I’d like to be able to do something,” she continues.
KTSM 9 News reached out to El Paso area public school districts and the districts stated they do not have armed teachers or participate in the programs.
However, the Burnham Wood Charter School District in El Paso says the Texas School Guardian program and another program called the School Marshal program are being considered.
“We’re considering whether it would be a good idea to have some employees here that would have a concealed weapon but through a recognized and authorized program,” said Dr. Joe E. Gonzales the Superintendent of Burnham Wood Charter School District.
Texas Senator, Cesar Blanco D-El Paso says he has some concerns.
“Teachers are already overworked, they’re underpaid, and they shouldn’t have to lecture with a marker in one hand and a gun in a holster in another, these are the things that I’m hearing, and I stand firmly in my belief that the greatest thing we can do for school safety is to pass common sense gun safety laws,” said Blanco.
However, he says when it comes to school safety, nothing is off the table and there will be debate and discussion on school safety during this Texas legislative session.
“As legislatures we’ve got to do everything to ensure another Uvalde doesn’t happen,” said Blanco.
Adding that on the topic of the guardian and marshal programs back in 2013 the Texas legislature passed into law the option for schools to appoint a school marshal, but few have participated.
“This is a way for educators to carry weapons inside of schools and prevent active shooter situations and since then only 248 school marshals from 62 school districts across the state actually participate in the program,” said Blanco.