Texas House advances bills focused on school safety, including HB 3

State lawmakers have advanced a bill that would require armed guards in public schools. 

It’s one of three measures approved by the House Monday—all focused on school safety, and all in direct response to the massacre in Uvalde.

By a vote of 112 to 19, the Texas House approved HB 3 late Monday. The bill would put an armed security guard, armed police officer, or armed employee on every public school campus in Texas.

"I can tell you, talking to parents teachers, grandparents, educators, even classroom teachers from Uvalde—having somebody there as a security guard is a sense of safety," said state Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock), who authored the bill.

If police officers fill those roles, an approved amendment to the bill specifies that their role must be limited to school security.


"What we do not want to do is increase general police authority on a campus," said state Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso), who co-sponsored the bill.

HB 3 was a collaboration between Democrats and Republicans in the wake of the Robb Elementary shooting last May, in which 19 students and two teachers were killed.

"Our committee determined that multiple systemic failures are what made it possible. This bill is a response to one of those failures," said Moody.

But some are concerned about the idea of arming teachers.

"Who would be considered a school district employee? A teacher," said state Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos (D-Richardson).

An amendment to require trigger locks on employees’ guns was voted down.

"This is one small thing we can do. If a gun is found by a student, it cannot be shot by a student," said state Rep. Vikki Goodwin (D-Austin).


Another bill approved Monday—HB 13—would mandate mental health training for school staff, and offer $25,000 to those who get firearm training to become "school guardians". 

"I personally think any school employee that takes on the added responsibility of carrying a weapon on campus should get paid," said state Rep. Ken King (R-Canadian).

The House advanced a third school safety bill Monday, to require panic buttons in public schools and charter schools—allowing teachers to covertly alert police or EMS in case of an active shooter.

"Our hearing rooms have panic buttons, and many of our state offices. Shouldn’t we give our children the same protections we give ourselves," said state Rep. Shawn Thierry (R-Houston).

But some, like Goodwin, are upset that none of these bills address what is perhaps the biggest concern raised by Uvalde families.

"I wish we were also having a debate today about raising the age to purchase a semi-automatic rifle," said Goodwin.

"This is not an either-or choice. There are a lot of things that we need to be doing to try to make our schools safer. This clearly advances the ball," said Burrows.

The House will take one more, final vote on HB 3 before it heads to the senate.