Call for special session; school violence proposals needed, lawmaker says

Published 9:28 am Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Texas Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, is asking for a special legislative session to deal with gun violence in schools and communities.

This comes days after a student opened fire at his Santa Fe high school, killing 10 people.

Villalba, who called for the creation of the School Marshal program that was passed in the 83rd legislative session and now expanded to include private schools and junior colleges, sent a letter to Gov. Greg Abbot as well as to members of the Texas legislature, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Speaker Joe Straus on Monday and had previously asked for a commission on gun violence in Texas.

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“The Texas 2018-2019 school year will begin for most Texas students in August of this year, just three months away. If we believe for a moment that there is any chance whatsoever that our children may again be impacted by gun violence in our schools or in our communities, then we, the leaders of the great state of Texas, have no choice but to immediately act,” Villalba said in his letter to Abbott and others.

Villalba asked for the special session to “begin the process of formulating viable and effective solutions to reducing, and hopefully ending altogether, gun violence in our schools and communities.”

Villalba hopes to see a multi-faceted plan.

“Any solution that the legislature considers to address gun violence in Texas should be multi-pronged, yet carefully and thoughtfully tailored,” he said.

While many approaches could help, he would like to see the following:
• Implementing “Red Flag” laws in Texas to ensure that those individuals who have exhibited troubling or disturbing behavior that school authorities determine would likely result in harm to another student, would be prohibited from accessing firearms and would receive necessary mental health screenings or treatment.
• Expansion of the Texas School Marshal Program by providing funding for the necessary training and equipment and education to ISDs so that they are aware of the program and its basic operational logistics.
• Expediting background checks and providing that any state system interface more efficiently with federal or military databases so that no one “slips through the cracks.”
• Providing for enforcement of firearm security in the household so that an authorized access is less likely.


In 2016 Villalba proposed to amend legislation to specify the type of ammunition that can be used by school marshals in an active shooter situation.

The lawmaker met with representatives of the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement and ballistics experts and their recommendation on which type of frangible ammunition is the best will be implemented into the program.

Frangible ammunition is designed to disintegrate upon impact with a hard surface, but ballistic experts have raised concerns that the bullets could pass through softer building materials such as sheet rock walls or the body of the intended target and endanger innocent bystanders.

The legislation was amended to say that no school marshal will carry ammo unless that ammo has been TCOLE certified and approved.