A bill introduced into the Texas House this week would permit teachers to use deadly force against students to protect themselves or others. The law would also allow teachers to use deadly force to defend school property. The measure, euphemistically called “The Teacher’s Protection Act,” was introduced by Republican Representative Dan Flynn. Flynn represents a mostly rural East Texas District that includes Hunt, Hopkins and Van Zandt counties. On his home page, he boasts about the conservative nature of his District as follows:
The rural district, home to 174,000 proud Texans, values conservative principles and family values, and voted for Governor Romney over President Obama in the 2012 Presidential election by a 4-1 margin.
Flynn’s bill is the “Stand Your Ground” mentality gone mad. Lawmakers with deep red constituencies may feel compelled to write legislation that the NRA will applaud, but it hardly makes for sound, rational public policy. Allowing teachers to execute students simply to protect school property shows how absurd the gun right’s movement has become.
The most extreme portion of the bill is section 38A.003 that permits a teacher to kill in defense of school property. It reads:
Sec. 38A.003. EDUCATOR’S DEFENSE OF SCHOOL PROPERTY. (a)
An educator is justified in using force or deadly force on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored event in defense of property of the school that employs the educator if, under the circumstances as the educator reasonably believes them to be, the educator would be justified under Section 9.43, Penal Code, in using force or deadly force, as applicable, in defense of property of the school that employs the educator.
9.43. PROTECTION OF THIRD PERSON’S PROPERTY. A person is justified in using force or deadly force against another to protect land or tangible, movable property of a third person if, under the circumstances as he reasonably believes them to be, the actor would be justified under section 9.41 or 9.42 in using force or deadly force to protect his own land or property and:
1) the actor reasonably believes the unlawful interference constitutes attempted or consummated theft of or criminal mischief to the tangible, movable property: or
2) the actor reasonably believes that:
(A) the third person has requested his protection of the land or property;
(B) he has a legal duty to protect the third person’s land or property; or
(C) the third person whose land or property he uses force or deadly force to protect is the actor’s spouse, parent, or child, resides with the actor, or is under the actor’s care.
This proposed Texas bill would essentially give school teachers a license to kill students who were damaging school property. Students should not vandalize school property, but is it prudent to give teachers the right to impose the death penalty on suspected juvenile delinquents? The Texas state legislature may think the way to stop Middle School kids from spray painting the outside of the school building is to let teachers shoot a few of them, but really there are more sensible ways to address school vandalism. The Texas House should reject this bill in its entirety.