AUSTIN -- From books to blackboards, could teachers' school supplies in Texas soon include guns?
In the wake of the tragic elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) of Tyler told FOX News Sunday he wished the school principal had been armed with an assault rifle as well.
"I wish to God she had had an M4 in her office locked up," Gohmert told host Chris Wallace. "So when she heard gunfire she pulls it out and she didn't have to lunge heroically with nothing in her hands, but she takes him out. Takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids."
Speaking to Tea party supporters Monday, Texas Governor Rick Perry suggested expanding concealed carry laws, in particular regarding schools.
"If you go through the process and you have been duly backgrounded and trained and you are a concealed handgun license (CHL) carrying individual, you should be able to carry your handgun anywhere in this state," Perry said.
Whether to allow teachers with CHLs to carry on campus is currently up to each school board, with Harrold ISD in rural Northwest Texas the only district thus far which has elected to allow the practice.
Meanwhile, the intersection of schools and the Second Amendment is an issue that's expected to get plenty of debate when the Texas legislature convenes in January.
"Bearing arms either by teachers or guards and things like that, those will be all a part of more comprehensive policy issues for the legislature to take up here in the coming weeks," Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott told media Monday.
The first new proposal in the wake of the Newtown shooting comes from newly-elected State Rep. Jason Villalba (R-Dallas), who announced Tuesday plans to file "The Protection of Texas Children Act." The bill would allow schools to appoint a "school marshal," a faculty member licensed and specially trained to carry a concealed handgun in the classroom.
"If we could provide uniformed police officers on every campus in the district or in Texas, then I'm perfectly satisfied by that," Villalba told KVUE Tuesday.
His argument is that many schools, particularly those in rural areas, lack the necessary resources. Villalba said school marshals would be deputized officers he compares to Federal Air Marshals, and said his bill has been misrepresented.
"My proposal is not about expanding CHL rights, my proposal is about expanding law enforcement in the classroom," said Villalba, explaining that participants would be required to undergo rigorous training and certification beyond what is required for a CHL.
"I don't think it creates a safe, trusting environment when you have teachers walking around with a gun on their hip or in their purse," said Ken Zarifis, President of Education Austin.
Many teachers' advocates worry guns would be more a distraction and potential liability than a solution.
"We were not trained to be security officers or policemen," said Texas State Teachers Association President Rita Haecker. "We know that is a different field, and we want to make sure that those people are the ones that are actually carrying the firearms and not our educators."
Haecker argued the debate over guns in schools avoids the bigger issues of school funding, as well as health, counseling and support services that have all been cut back as a result of austerity cuts.
"We need people in our buildings that are trained in the issue of safety, and our schools the resources to provide that," said Haecker. "Given that our legislators decided to cut almost $5 billion from public education, many of our schools are in need of those kinds of services. So those issues need to be addressed first."
One more issue at which legislators will soon take aim.