Arming Teachers is not the Answer
Firearms are the leading cause of death for American children and teens, however we are moving towards lessening firearm regulations and arming teachers in America.
May 24, 2023
Arming teachers is not the answer to school violence. There is a false idea that arming teachers and school staff will make our schools safe but arguably an armed teacher cannot, in a moment of extreme stress, be expected to perform as a trained law enforcement officer. Arming teachers increase the likelihood of students not only arming themselves in a classroom but also the likelihood of student bystanders being shot.
Since the start of 2023, school shooting victims have been at an all-time high in comparison to this time last year. So far in 2023, there have been two school-related ones. In total, there have been 131 mass shootings in 2023 compared to 113 this time last year.
There are many reasons why arming teachers is not the right move. Nationwide school safety experts, teachers, and law enforcement continually push back against this agenda. Many who support arming teachers fail to acknowledge that the presence of a gun in the classroom automatically makes a gun more accessible to students and/or possible incoming threats. There have been multiple inci
dents of students and teachers finding misplaced firearms: in bathrooms, locker rooms, and even sporting events.
Not only does the presence of a gun create pressure but it also requires the teacher to be at all times ready to perform as a law enforcement officer. Law enforcement officers receive hundreds of hours of training to handle weapons and guns in public but, in states that allow armed school personnel, there is much less arm-related training for teachers. Teachers are not trained law enforcement officers and many enter education to support the social, emotional, and learning development of youth, not to receive training on how to shoot their students. Arming teachers also creates an intimidating and stressful environment for students and teachers alike.
Our leaders should instead pursue evidence-based interventions. For example, Extreme Risk laws can stop people who show warning signs of danger to themselves or others from accessing and buying guns. Secure storage awareness can address the most common source of guns used in school gun violence—those taken from the home. Tighter barriers to getting a gun and background checks should be enforced in every state. Another factor to consider when it comes to preventing school shootings is mental health. Schools can invest in mental health professionals and create threat assessment programs that identify and intervene when a student is a risk to themselves or others.
Ultimately, any solution to this complex issue must take into account all of these factors and weigh the benefits and risks of each approach.