AUSTIN, Texas - As President Donald Trump pushes for more guns in schools, some Texas lawmakers tout a program they say is at the forefront: the School Marshal Program.
Lawmakers passed the law in 2013, which allows trained school employees to have a firearm on campus. The training is 80 hours, and the cost of that training is currently shouldered by the school district or employee.
Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, said his goal is to protect students in seconds rather than waiting minutes for police to arrive.
"If we can have someone who is capable of responding in seconds rather than minutes, at a minimum that minimizes the ability for the perpetrator to do harm," he said.
The program differs from concealed carry since the firearm is required to be stored at all times.
"You do have access to firearms, but the firearm is going to be kept within your immediate reach under lock and key, so that it is not on the person," Villalba said.
"We don't need guns in schools," said Ken Zarifis, president of Education Austin. "We need resources. We need support for kids, for their families and for our teachers."
Zarafis represents the teachers of Austin ISD. He said adding firearms to schools will put more students in danger than it will protect.
"We must understand the problem and not just think that a gun will fix it. It is the wrong thinking; it won't fix anything," he said. "More people will end up dead."
The Texas Association of School Boards said 172 districts allow staff to carry firearms on campus. Villalba said the list of teachers who've completed the training is confidential.