The Texas Legislature hasn’t been in session very long, but there are already certain themes beginning to emerge in the legislation that has been filed. One major theme has been safety. Or, more accurately, Republicans trying to rob Texans of any safety they have left. They’ve already decided that low-income women don’t need cancer screenings. Now, a new bill filed in the Texas House would make it legal for teachers to use deadly force on campuses in order to “protect school property.”
HB 868, or the Teacher’s Protection Act, was filed by State Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Van). It would allow the use of “force or deadly force on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored event in defense of the educator’s person or in defense of students of the school that employs the educator.” They would also be permitted to use deadly force in defense of school property, and would not be held liable for any deaths their actions caused.
Flynn’s commitment to arming Texans has led him to previously author legislation to permit firearms on college campuses, and to fight to repeal concealed handgun license requirements. He’s also the author of an offers immunity for teachers who use “reasonable” force against students. This law would extend that protection so that deadly force fell under legal protection as well.
As ThinkProgress noted, the provisions of HB 868 are most worrisome for students of color. Black and Latino students already face disproportionately higher rates of disciplinary action in schools. It’s not hard to see how this bill could increase the use of force against these students, already under increased scrutiny of their teachers. The umbrella of “defending school property” is so broadly defined that it could easily be abused, making students less safe on campus than before.
It remains to be seen whether this bill will actually make it into a law. But we can add Dan Flynn to the list of Republican legislators this session who have shown they want Texans to have as little safety as possible.