Should School Teachers Carry Guns?

Training requirements, the risk of friendly fire, cost and many other factors make arming teachers a bad choice.

The full extent of the tragedy of February’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting has sunk in for all of us, and campuses are once again evaluating whether or not they should arm their teachers. Let’s revisit several of the reasons why arming faculty members is a terrible idea.

To safely carry and use a concealed weapon on campus during an active shooter attack, teachers must receive intensive, on-going firearms training. This means they would need to attend something akin to a law enforcement academy that teaches them when to pull their gun, when to fire and hold their fire and how to shoot a firearm accurately.

According to the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO), which opposes arming teachers, the training of teachers should be done under simulated and high-stress conditions, and should prepare them to take the lives of students if they are the assailants. Because firearm skills degrade rapidly, training must be on-going and frequent.

Considering all of the challenges campuses have with adequately maintaining their cameras, locks, two-way radios and other equipment, the idea that faculty members would stay current on firearms training is delusional. What’s more, not staying up-to-date on firearms proficiency is potentially much more deadly than not maintaining your security equipment. If a camera, radio or lock isn’t maintained, it most likely just won’t work, but it won’t kill anyone, unlike the misuse of a gun.

Additionally, most CCP qualification standards aren’t very demanding and don’t address the training capabilities I’ve just mentioned. According to Northern Virginia Community College Lt. John Weinstein, who is an ardent gun rights supporter, it’s possible to receive a CCP in his state without actually demonstrating live fire proficiency. This lax standard probably applies to other states as well.

Additionally, according to Weinstein, those who receive training on a range most likely won’t be adequately prepared to respond to an active shooter.

“First, most ranges don’t allow shooters to draw from holsters, both on the hip and concealed,” he says. “Second, most ranges do not allow shooting and moving, an essential firearms combat skill.”

Even individuals who have received active shooter firearms response training from local police have performed poorly during active shooter exercises. Weinstein recalls the time he witnessed a church active shooter exercise a few years ago involving church team members who were trained and went through some simple scenarios: “During various scenarios, innocent civilians were shot, as were police (actors) responding to the scene. Team members crossed in front of other members’ aimed weapons. In short, it was a nightmare, not to mention a gigantic potential liability for the church.”

And let’s not forget the fact that police officers who do receive adequate firearms training more often than not miss their targets when they are under the severe stress of an incident.

Here’s a list of several other reasons why arming teachers is a bad idea:

  • It increases the risk of teachers being shot by responding police officers who could mistake them for the assailant (friendly fire)
  • It increases the potential for negligent discharges
  • It increases the chances of students or other unauthorized individuals getting the gun either by force or if the teacher accidentally leaves it somewhere
  • The teacher could be tempted to go after the shooter and abandon his or her class
  • A small concealed firearm is much less accurate than a long gun, which is used by law enforcement
  • It would require teachers to receive initial and then periodic background checks and mental health screening on par with those conducted on applicants for law enforcement positions
  • The presence of a gun actually encourages hostile confrontation, according to a recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research. This is an important point to remember since most school incidents do not involve active shooters. Hostile confrontation might be exactly the wrong response to a situation.
  • It’s expensive. According to the Brookings Institute, arming 10-20 percent of our nation’s 3.2 million public school teachers would cost more than $650 million, and that estimate is conservative
  • It’s unclear whether the presence of an armed individual acts as a deterrent. The Parkland, Fla., shooter certainly wasn’t deterred, despite the fact that there was an armed SRO on campus. Additionally, many active shooters are suicidal.

This is just a brief overview of the many reasons why schools should not allow teachers to carry firearms on campus. Arming teachers poses too many risks and will make campuses less safe.

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About the Author

robin hattersley headshot

Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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9 responses to “Should School Teachers Carry Guns?”

  1. MJ says:

    One thing that isnt being mentioned, is that, I think teachers should be allowed only to use a firearm in a defensive nature. What I mean is, is that the teacher should not go out into the hall way and locate the threat, but only use it if the threat makes it past their locked classroom/office door. I dont think a fire arm should be so readily available, such as on a hip holster or even concealed ankle holster. It should only be stored in a biometric gun safe in the teachers desk.

  2. Bob Cutajar says:

    The author’s not-so-hidden bias is too evident here. So much for “fair and balanced” — and just what I’d expect from this left-leaning, politically-correct, “symbolism over substance” organization…

  3. Calanthia Mann says:

    Absolutely, teachers should only use the firearm if the threat makes it past their locked classroom door or office. If teachers go out into the hallway to locate the threat, I believe this could cause more harm than good. I don’t think a teacher should have firearms in the classroom period. What message are we sending if teachers are allowed to carry concealed weapons? Teachers are under enough stress with meeting benchmarks without adding firearms to the curriculum. The presence of guns should be hidden from all students. If teachers were allowed to carry concealed firearms, this would be a high priority.

  4. Ahzayria says:

    I just hate what happened to that school🙏😤this is also no joke to you all that laugh about this💔😭 long live to you all🌏🌏🌏

  5. Christopher says:

    My school almost had a shoot out though im happy but the kid got caught when he made the threat to shoot the school at feb 14th (Mariner High School Cape Coral) Im glad the school is safe though but Then again i agree with teachers not allowed to have guns on campus, because they can even shoot the school , If they do allow will we be truly safe?😢

  6. Christopher says:

    I agree with you but my school almost had a shoot out feb 14th the kid got caught though.

  7. i have bad ideas says:

    why not arm the guns with guns to stop school shooter 👌👌👌👌👌👌😂😂😂

  8. Jim says:

    Well trained, qualified teachers who are willing and able to carry concealed in schools should be allowed to do so, and it will make school campuses more safe. Fourteen states already allow that option.

    *Teachers being shot by police friendly fire can be avoided through coordinated training with local law enforcement, including a method to quickly identify the armed teachers.

    *Negligent discharges can be virtually eliminated if the teacher is properly trained and experienced with firearms.

    *Students overpowering a teacher to obtain the gun is possible, but unlikely if the teacher is using a deep conceal method of carry and properly trained on how to avoid/deal with such a scenario. Same with accidentally leaving a firearm unattended. Highly unlikely.

    * Abandoning classroom student is a bit vague and there may be reasons it becomes necessary.

    * A proper concealed carry gun is EXTREMELY accurate in the hands of a properly trained individual and a much better alternative than cowering behind a table with no means of protection while waiting for someone with a “long gun” to show up.

    * Of course it would require regular background checks and possible screening.

    * Guns encouraging hostile actions is bogus. Teachers carrying should be trained in de-escalating confrontational situations and use the gun only when appropriate.

    * Resource officers are not cheap either. Each school in Florida pay $90K+ for resource officers annually.

    * The Parkland example actually makes the point in favor of arming teachers. The resource officer was there and failed to do his job. The student was identified on numerous occasions as a threat and was even reported to the FBI twice by concerned citizens who thought he was a danger.

    Today we have an increasing number of teachers who are combat experienced military veterans. I know one teacher who is a retired Army Special Forces “Green Beret”, 6’3″, still runs marathons. I know another teacher who is retired Airborne Army Ranger, 6’4″ who just finished walking the Appalachian Trail. Both of these individuals are in great shape, intelligent, had background checks including top secret clearances and could outshoot many if not most LEO resource officers in a stressful situation. LEOs typically only fire their weapons when they qualify once a quarter. Others do train more. Why on God’s green earth would we not develop a system to arm teachers who spent a 20+ year career developing their shooting skills/tactics and actually using them in combat as an added layer of protection for our students?

    U.S. Army Retired
    Special Forces (Light Weapons & Demolitions)

  9. Patricia Savvides says:

    Well, stated I agree 100%. Thank you for your services.

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