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Questions and Answers about Arming Teachers

March 12, 2018

Defending our students is a serious issue. It deserves more thought than a sound bite or a tweet. Unfortunately, politics is driven by emotion rather than reason, by appearances rather than by facts. I’ve heard bad arguments about arming teachers and about disarming them. Let’s look at the issue piece at a time. Let’s separate fact from fiction.

Perhaps you’ve heard this.

Should teachers be armed at school?
Each of us has something different in mind when we think about “allowing guns in schools.” Even the definition of school is different from state to state. Regulations may extend from daycare facilities to postgraduate research sites and hospitals. These “schools” may be privately owned, operated by a church, or publicly funded. Do the regulations cover the classroom during school hours, or the parents’ van when students are on a fieldtrip after school? Describing what we mean eliminates a lot of soundbite confusion.

The issue is complicated. Who is responsible for authorizing armed staff? Is it the school principal, the school board, or the local sheriff? Usually they are all involved in approving a program and selecting volunteers.

“I’ll quit teaching if they make me carry a gun in class.”
I’ve studied this subject for years and I have not found a single example of school staff being ordered to carry on campus. The programs allow trained and authorized staff to be armed rather than forcing anyone to carry a gun at school.

Should selected school staff be allowed to go armed to protect themselves and others?
A school board usually makes the decision to arm staff. The board then looks for volunteers who already have a concealed carry permit. If selected, then the volunteers are usually screened by the sheriff. Training may be local or at the state level.

Teachers don’t want to carry guns.
The answer you get depends on which teachers you ask and the question you ask them. Recent training classes for school staff have been full to overflowing. I know of training programs which trained over a thousand educators yet they had to turn qualified teachers away because they didn’t have enough money to train everyone who wanted to attend a class. Fortunately, enough teachers want to be trained to protect our students.

Guns don’t belong at school. That isn’t a place for violence.
This statement confuses reality with fantasy. In fact, violence is in our schools every day and has been for awhile. Our children are more likely to be the victims of violence in our schools than when they are at home. Students are more likely to be killed by violence in schools than by accidents like fire or earthquake. We conduct fire and earthquake drills at school, but we ignored the greater threat of deliberate violence..until now.

I’m here to love and nurture these kids. How does a gun help me do that?
Guns aren’t the answer. How can violence ever stop violence?
A firearm is a tool. We have a number of “tools” at school to protect students and staff from unlikely events that we hope never happen. Having fire extinguishers and bandages at school doesn’t mean we want fires and accidents. Firearms can help stop people from perpetrating violence against others. That is the reason a million law enforcement officers carry a gun. That is why about 20 million civilians legally carry a concealed firearm in public. Armed defense is only part of a safety solution that includes door locks, first aid kits, and training.

Leave the guns for the police, not for school staff.
Disarming trained school staff doesn’t disarm an attacker. When we study school attacks, we find that time is the enemy. Police need minutes to respond. It may take EMTs hours to treat the injured. Seconds count, and those delays mean too many students will die while we wait. Trained volunteers at school want to stop the threat and treat the injured until help arrives. What tools should we give them?

Policemen have training that teachers don’t, so teachers are not qualified to defend students.
Armed school staff are defenders. Fortunately, these volunteers don’t have to do the many jobs we ask of the police. Teachers don’t need to write tickets or make high-speed chases. Teachers don’t make arrests, preserve evidence, or testify in court. Teachers don’t deal with prisoners in jail. In the programs I’ve seen, armed school staff were required to perform above the level set for police officers in their shooting qualification. They did very well.

Teachers also have a hidden advantages over law enforcement. Teachers know their school and their students. Armed civilians are less likely to shoot innocent bystanders than the police.

We can’t arm staff because it is illegal to bring guns in school.
In some states it is legal and in some states it is illegal to arm designated school staff. School districts arm staff in Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Utah, Texas, Arkansas, Indiana and Ohio. Hundreds of school districts have programs in place. Thousands of teachers are armed in schools today. Unfortunately, I’ve heard school and law enforcement officials lie about what can be done within the law. If necessary, we can and should change laws to protect our students. 

Our insurance company won’t let us bring guns on campus.
That may be true, but it isn’t the whole truth. Some insurance companies insure schools and churches with armed staff. The insurance rates are comparable with unprotected schools. Insurance companies look at risks. Leaving our children unprotected presents a risk of loss and of lawsuits. Arming teachers presents some risk depending on the level of training that school staff receive.

We shouldn’t have to arm teachers.
We already protect our students today. We design our schools to withstand fire and natural disasters. We protect our students from people as well as from nature. We don’t release the children to strangers, and we report abuse when we see it. We want to protect our students from every threat they face.

Some school staff want to protect students from bad people who come on campus. I want to encourage them and thank them. They are there to protect my children when I can’t be there.

I gave you 900 words. Please leave a comment and a rating. What do you think about arming trained school staff? RM

11 Comments leave one →
  1. CPT Taggart permalink
    March 12, 2018 10:19 am

    You are spot on. AS a Texas LTC Instructor I have provided License classes for perhaps 50 teachers and school staff. If they have passed the LTC class , and are competent to defend themselves on the street, they have demonstrated the basic skill needed be able to DEFEND a classroom from an armed intruder, after all they are geared to do the SAME thing at home or on the street. Defense of a fixed position does not require a SWAT cop or an Army Ranger. I would also point out that several of the faculty and staff I have trained, in another life, were Army Rangers and 0311 DevilDogs-but now they teach history and civics. I suspect they would respond to a would be School shooter more effectively than the Broward County SO.
    In Texas, if the school board allows it, LTC holders may carry in a school; some smaller school districts already do so. No fancy program , administrative hoops or red tape-simply LTC holders teachers and staff- the French teacher , football coach and the Head Custodian- can Carry their usual arms at school. On the other hand, big city districts such as Dallas Infependent School District, Houston and San Anyonio wouldn’t think of such a simple, Low cost solution.
    We have a ways to go.
    Keep up the fight.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. March 12, 2018 11:21 am

    Teachers are people, and people carry and use guns competently every day.

    That said, I would like to see us on the pro side adjust our language a bit. I think that instead of saying “arming teachers,” we might be better served by saying “allowing teachers to be armed at school.” This might help avoid the (ridiculous) assumption that we are suggesting that teachers be required to go armed, and instead suggest that they be allowed to choose to be armed (or not).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jay Eimer permalink
    March 12, 2018 1:41 pm

    Add Oklahoma to your list of states that allow armed staff. They have to be CCW holders and pass the CLEET training (equivalent to armed security guard) – and the district has to okay it. Two districts in my area (Okay and Porter) already have armed staff – and signs that warn of that fact!

    OTOH, the “big” local district (Tulsa) has its own police force – and the same “don’t stigmatize them with a criminal record” policies that gave us Parkland.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. March 13, 2018 9:59 pm

    “politics is driven by emotion” – actually big misunderstanding from your side !!
    Politics are driven by money, power and greed ! Subjects are ruled by emotions generated by politics !!!


  5. Larry Weeks permalink
    March 13, 2018 10:49 pm

    Schools have (require) armed security at schools for after school functions. Why not during school? Armed teachers don’t cost the school anything.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. May 10, 2018 9:33 am

    Teachers have Constitutional Rights too! Let’s not forget that they are not second-class citizens. The sad fact is that they are placed in the same prohibited category as convicted violent felons and the adjudicated mentally incompetent. Ask gun-control folks why that is?
    Whenever the subject comes up of law-abiding school teachers exercising Second Amendment rights to carry during their work-day the usual suspects appear out of everywhere implying that they are incompetent fools who would be unable and unwilling to confront evil. Yet, unarmed school employees are lauded as heroes for rushing headlong into a hail of bullets in vain attempts to protect the children under their care! Shame on those who have conspired to deprive such a great group of people the free exercise of one of our most fundamental rights!

    Liked by 1 person


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