Most Teachers Believe Teachers Carrying Guns on Campus Would Make Schools Less Safe
About 19% of all the teachers who participated in a new RAND study said they would carry a gun at school if allowed.
Should school teachers carry guns on campus? Most teachers don’t think so, according to new research.
More than half (54%) of U.S. school teachers believe that allowing K-12 campus faculty to carry firearms would make schools less safe, according to a new study from RAND Corporation. The study also found that only 20% of the teachers surveyed believe the move would make schools safer, while 26% don’t believe arming K-12 faculty would make a difference.
How survey participants responded appears to depend on their race, gender, and whether they teach in urban/suburban or rural areas. White teachers (21%) were more likely than Black (9%) or Hispanic teachers (15%) to believe faculty carrying guns would improve school security. More than three out of five (61%) teachers in urban or suburban schools believe the move would make K-12 campuses less safe, compared to two out of five rural respondents.
Additionally, at 30%, male survey participants who teach in rural schools were the most likely to say they would personally carry a firearm on their K-12 campus if they were allowed to do so. Women in suburban schools were the least likely to say they would carry a gun on their campus (12%). Overall, about 19% of all the teachers who participated in the study said they would carry a gun at school if permitted.
The Institute of Education Sciences estimates that if sworn law enforcement officers and other nonsecurity school staff are counted, at least one adult is legally carrying a gun on school properly in about half of U.S. public schools.
The RAND study also asked teachers about the other security measures implemented at their schools, such as locks, ID badges, video surveillance, and security officers. Regardless of race or gender, about half of the teachers believe their schools’ physical security measures had a positive impact on campus climate.
Interestingly, although gun violence gets the most media attention, teachers said their most common school safety concern was bullying rather than shootings.
The survey was administered to roughly 4,000 teachers in one Midwestern state.
The National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) opposes arming teachers for the following reasons:
- Law enforcement officers who respond to an incident at a school could mistake for an assailant a teacher or any other armed person who is not in a uniform.
- Anyone who hasn’t received the extensive training provided to law enforcement officers will likely be mentally unprepared to take a life, especially the life of a student assailant.
- Firearm skills degrade quickly, which is why most law enforcement agencies require their officers to practice on a shooting range frequently (as often as once per month), under simulated, high-stress conditions. Anyone without such frequent, ongoing practice will likely have difficulty using a firearm safely and effectively.
- In addition to maintaining marksmanship, ongoing firearms practice helps law enforcement officers overcome the physiological response to stress than can reduce the fine motor skills required to accurately fire a weapon.
- Anyone who possesses a firearm on campus must be able to keep it both ready for use and absolutely secure. Law enforcement officers receive training that enables them to overcome attempts to access their weapons.
- Discharging a firearm in a crowded school is an extremely risky action, with consequences that can include the wounding and/or death of innocent victims. Law enforcement officers receive training and practice in evaluating quickly the risks of firing. They hold their fire when the risks to others are too high.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include NASRO’s stance on teachers carrying guns on campus.
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