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Why Do Teachers Need Special Self-Defense Standards?

Our community is often upset, rightly so in my opinion, when police are given special powers that ordinary citizens lack. For the most part, the justification standards for use of force and deadly force is the same for an ordinary citizen as it is for the police officer. Police officers, of course, sometimes have different powers to apprehend, and also have qualified immunity (which is why a citizens arrest is never a smart idea). I think it’s an important tenet of our Republic that all citizens are equal before the law, regardless of whether they are agents of the state or not. I know we don’t often live up to that, but I think that is an ideal to strive for.

So that leads me to question why other people, people who are often agents of the state, need special powers to protect themselves? I could see a bill that prevented a teacher who exercises their right to lawful self-defense from being fired. That’s really just employment law. But it appears the bill says:

… 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 the educator’s person or in defense of students of the school that employs the educator if, under the circumstances as the educator reasonably believes them to be, the educator would be justified…in using force or deadly force, as applicable, in defense of the educator or students.

I’m not really certain what this even accomplishes, but I admit to being ignorant of any detailed knowledge of Texas self-defense law. The rest of the article leads me to believe that the sponsor of this legislation, Rep. Dan Flynn, is Texas’ very own version of our Daryl Metcalfe. Thinking of it that way puts this in an understandable context.

13 Responses to “Why Do Teachers Need Special Self-Defense Standards?”

  1. Stuart the Viking says:

    Boiling it down, isn’t this just saying that a teacher is justified to use force, if the teacher is justified to use force? I don’t understand why this needs to be said. Am I missing something?

  2. PaulT says:

    These types of laws are usually put in place as a personal liability shield, so that an individual doing their job (stopping a school attack) can’t get sued because they dared hurt someone. They should have known that he didn’t mean to shoot anyone, was a sweet boy, misunderstood, etc…

  3. Phelps says:

    It’s a non-sensical law. It’s saying, “A is equal to A as long as A is equal to A.”

    • Sigivald says:

      Not quite.

      [is A] if, under the circumstances as the educator reasonably believes them to be [A]

      In other words, this law makes it legally [A] on the basis of reasonable belief that it’s [A], as opposed to an external finding of fact.

      “What is reasonably believed to be A shall be A” is different from “A is A”.

  4. FiftycalTX says:

    It’s part of preparing the law to allow Texas teachers to carry on the job, in school. A few can do it now, with lots of training.

  5. dustydog says:

    The best laws say A = A. Consider the alternative.
    Judges and DAs routinely ignore black letter law that they don’t like, especially when laws conflict. Having a bright shiny new law is a good thing – especially when you have a due process right as a non-teacher to the same protections this law gives teacher.

    • divemedic says:

      Not really. Suppose there were a law that says that you can only use deadly force to defend yourself from a person who is unlawfully using lethal force against you. A is A, right?

      Then you are involved in a shooting where a person was pointing a realistic replica at you. Being a replica, it was not lethal force, so you committed a crime.

      Or, what if the person was shooting your child? Since the lethal force wasn’t directed at you, under this law, you committed a crime.

      What if the gun wasn’t loaded?

      There are a host of reasons why the ‘reasonably believes’ standard is used. If it were possible to achieve a fair outcome with
      “A=A” abd “black and white” laws, we wouldn’t need courts and lawyers.

  6. Has anyone researched TX law to see if it is similar to NJ law where any adult who strikes a child for any reason is guilty of child abuse? This would override that.

    • David Malloy says:

      Sean,

      Has anyone researched TX law to see if it is similar to NJ law where any adult who strikes a child for any reason is guilty of child abuse? This would override that.

      I know of two statutes in the Texas Penal code that address your question.

      PC §9.61 makes it legal for a parent/guardian to use non-deadly force against a child, “when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is necessary to discipline the child or to safeguard or promote his welfare.”
      PC §9.62 makes it legal for an educator to use non-deadly force against a child, “when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is necessary to further the special purpose or to maintain discipline in a group.”

      Now, IANAL. I don’t know anything about what case law exists on this subject.

      Source: CHL-16, which is actually a very handy reference.

  7. Overload in CO says:

    There is a story here in Colorado about a charter school who wants to allow staff to carry on campus. One of the requirements would be the staff member would receive/need 600-800 hours of training. That’s what I thought you meant by the headline of this post. I think 600-800 hours if training is excessive. Maybe it’s a teacher thing?

    http://www.greeleytribune.com/news/14731254-113/questions-remain-in-frontier-academy-guns-on-campus-proposal

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