FORT WORTH, Texas -
The first Texas teachers and school administrators started training on Monday to become armed school marshals.
The instructors were trained a few months ago in San Marcos, and now, some classes for educators are being held in Fort Worth.
Under a new Texas law, the marshals must sit through 80 hours of training over nine days. They must also undergo psychological exams, have a concealed handgun license and take the training that includes time on a gun range.
Marshals can begin carrying weapons on campuses with the approval of their school board when classes begin next month.
After a wave of enthusiasm over the state law allowing armed marshals, a group of just seven showed up in Monday’s first class.
“Before people jump on that ship or boat, they go, ‘Hey, let’s talk about this and figure this out first before we actually send somebody and spend the money and time,’” said firearms instructor Rafael Perea.
Other factors in Monday’s turnout may be that school districts are still developing new policies.
Someone in the school has to be willing to take on responsibility. The schools have to be confident in who they choose, and they have to approved by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.
Perea says the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings demonstrated that teachers are very capable of also being their students’ protector.
“When an active shooter event occurred, they were there to protect the children, and they turned their mission from learning to protecting; one of the things these individuals have to take home with them,” said Perea.
The class held on Monday had room to train 20 school marshals, and the expectation is that other classes will begin filling up as districts get used to the reality of having armed marshals in their school.
Perea says the school marshal system makes sense because even though police have a good response time, the average is three minutes.
“So while we're waiting for those three minutes, these school marshals can engage the suspect and hopefully stop the killings sooner,” said Perea.
The Dallas Independent School District will not take part in the marshal program because it already has its own security in place.
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