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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott rolls out plan to arm teachers, beef up police presence in the wake of Sante Fe massacre


Texas Gov. Greg Abbott holds a roundtable discussion with victims, family, and friends affected by the Santa Fe, Texas school shooting at the state capital last week. (Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images)

To stop the scourge of school shootings, there need to be more armed people in the nation's classrooms, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday as he unveiled a 43-page plan to beef up school safety in the wake of the Santa Fe massacre.

Abbott, a staunch pro-gun Republican with an A rating from the National Rifle Association, proposed deploying more armed law enforcement officers to schools, while also expanding the so-called school marshals program, which allows gun-trained teachers to carry weapons.

"This plan is a starting point, not an ending place," Abbott said during a news conference in Dallas. "It provides strategies that can be used before the next school year begins to keep our students safe when they return to school. This plan will make our schools safer and our communities safer."

Abbott's "School and Firearm Safety Action Plan" immediately provides $120 million for increased law enforcement presence and training for armed teachers.

Furthermore, the plan suggests implementing a "zero-tolerance" policy for students who threaten teachers or their classmates, lowering the threshold for expellable offenses and have students undergo more rigorous mental health screenings.

The plan only includes one gun control proposal: to "study" efforts to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill people — "but only after legal due process is allowed to ensure Second Amendment rights are not violated."

Law enforcement officers respond to Santa Fe High School after the deadly May 18 shooting.
Law enforcement officers respond to Santa Fe High School after the deadly May 18 shooting. (Steve Gonzales/AP)

Abbott's plan of action came one day after students at Santa Fe High School returned to class for the first time since 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis killed 10 people there on May 18, according to authorities. Pagourtzis, who's been charged with capital murder, is accused of gunning down his classmates and teachers with a shotgun and pistol that belonged to his father.

Abbott's proposal to put more guns in the hands of teachers echoes rhetoric pushed by President Trump and the NRA. Gun control advocates and scores of educators have ripped the idea as dangerous and counterintuitive.

Abbott said a survivor of the Santa Fe shooting endorsed the controversial proposal.

"As one Santa Fe student said…arming teachers and not knowing who is armed, that is what we need," the governor said. "When an active shooter situation arises, the difference between life and death can be a matter of seconds. Trained security personnel can make all the difference."

There have already been 23 school shootings this year in which people have been hurt or killed, according to statistics. Accounting for the victims of the Santa Fe shooting, more students have been killed from gun violence in schools this year than members of the U.S. military in combat zones.