Schools in favor of harsh gun penalties

Harwell Middle School

Edinburg CISD Superintendent Rene Gutierrez told Action 4 News, in his 26 years as an educator shootings, like the one that happened at Harwell Middle School in December of 2011, is something they never thought would happen.

Harwell is built in a rural area of Hidalgo County and is like many school across the state of Texas.

Located nearby the school are miles of ranch land used for hunting and target practice.

"We took a lot of safety measures in our district after the shooting, Gutierrez said. We have more officers patrolling the area and we built a levee.

We wanted to do more so an incident like Harwell doesn't happen again in Edinburg or in the state of Texas."

Gutierrez along with State Representative Sergio Munoz, Jr. and several other started to work on House Bill 801.

The bill would increase the projectile penalty from a Class ~C TM misdemeanor to a Class ~A TM if the bullet crosses onto school property.

It would also require hunters to take a hunter education course and have TXDOT place signs in requested and appropriate places to warn the public of a school in range of a shooters bullets.

"We're trying to do what we can to, not remedy the situation, but put something on the books that will make it a deterrent in the future," Munoz said. "If we're adding more education and adding personal responsibility we can prevent that from happening here and the state of Texas again."

The bill has already been drafted and while that might seem like the hardest part of this process, it is not.

Getting others to agree with what a person is doing is even harder.

Thursday is when the real work beings.

Gutierrez will travel to Austin to speak on behalf of the Edinburg School District and the two children severely wounded that day.

He has hopes that his personal experience with this matter will shed some light on why this bill is so important.

"We know the trauma that we went through, Gutierrez started. We're still experiencing it--that's why we want to do something about this. Our kids are still hurt. One is still paralyzed and will never walk again and the other is living without one of his kidneys."