Education News

Lawmakers in these 6 states are pushing to arm teachers

By Amanda Litvinov / Photo: Young activists at the March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C., March 24, 2018.

Columbine. Newtown. Parkland. These are some of the first places that come to mind when the topic is school shootings.

But every state in the union has had at least one incident of school gun violence since 1970, according to federal data. Most have had dozens. California and Texas have suffered well over 100.

Last year stands alone as the worst on record. Ninety-four incidents of school gun violence were documented, an increase of nearly 60 percent over the previous record high in 2016.

Sadly, some state lawmakers have spent this year’s legislative sessions trying to put more guns in schools. Most of their proposals involve arming teachers and other school staff (or increasing that number in states that already allow educators to carry guns).

Research indicates that arming teachers actually makes students less safe.

Putting more firearms in schools increases the possibility that a troubled student could get their hands on a gun as well as the likelihood of accidental shootings. It also takes funding and focus away from strategies proven to make schools safer, such as:

  • adding school counselors and school psychologists;
  • banning assault weapons;
  • and requiring universal background checks for all gun purchases.

President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have backed the idea of arming educators. DeVos wants to use federal grant money intended for academics and enrichment to purchase firearms for teachers, even though the idea is widely rejected by educators.

A March 2018 Gallup poll found that 73 percent of U.S. teachers do NOT want to carry guns in school.

Here are the states where some lawmakers are still pushing to arm teachers:

FLORIDA

The Florida Senate passed a bill this week that would allow any teacher who undergoes training to carry firearms into the classroom.

The Florida Education Association opposes arming teachers. Instead, they advocate adding mental health staff in schools.

A group of about 150 students from the March for Our Lives movement protested the bill at the statehouse. The group was founded by students who survived the horrific 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last February.

MISSOURI

Missouri’s HB 575 includes a controversial—and frightening—amendment that legalizes concealed carry on college campuses. That means any student, staff member, or visitor with the right permit could walk around campus with a loaded gun. As written, the bill also forbids state colleges from creating their own policies to prohibit guns.

At a hearing on April 18, one person spoke in favor of the bill and 16 spoke out against it, including university students and faculty. The Missouri Education Association opposes the measure. Regardless, the House passed the bill and sent it to the Senate.

MONTANA

Earlier this month, the Montana legislature passed several bills that would result in more guns in schools. HB 567 allows any school employee to become a “school marshal,” which authorizes them to carry a gun on school grounds.

Lawmakers also approved a pair of bills that remove local authority to prohibit the concealed carry of firearms in public places, including schools. Only one of those bills could be vetoed by Gov. Steve Bullock; the other, a legislative referendum, puts the item on the ballot in November 2020. The Montana Federation of Public Employees President (MFPE), which represents the state’s teachers and other public employees, opposes those bills.

Related: MFPE President Eric Feaver gave passionate testimony against another measure, SB 304, which would allow legislators to carry concealed weapons in the statehouse.

NORTH CAROLINA

A pair of bills could bring disturbing changes to North Carolina schools. HB 216 would allow school staff to carry concealed handguns in schools. SB 192 adds an incentive. That measure offers a 5 percent salary increase to teachers who undergo law enforcement training so they can serve both as educators and as sworn law enforcement officers.

The North Carolina Association of Educators has been outspoken in its opposition. “We’re currently ranked 50th in the country in addressing the psychological needs of our students,”  said NCAE President Mark Jewell. “We don’t need guns. We need more nurses, more counselors, more school psychologists.”

OKLAHOMA

Oklahoma allows educators to have guns in school only if they have completed armed guard or reserve peace officer training. But HB 2336, an expansion bill, would allow any school employee with a concealed carry permit to walk the halls with a loaded gun.

The Oklahoma Education Association opposes the bill. “What we need are counselors in our schools,” OEA President Alicia Priest told KOCO News. “What we need is mental health access. It would save more lives to fund our schools by allowing us the funding we need to hire counselors.”

TEXAS

Texas law already permits some school staff to carry guns. Now, the Texas Senate has approved a bill that would lift the requirement that school marshals keep firearms under lock and key. Another bill eliminates the cap on the number of marshals permitted on a school campus.

The Texas State Teachers Association opposes the expansion and says lawmakers should instead focus on improving school funding and mental health services.

Last May, eight Texas students and two educators were killed and 13 others were injured when a student opened fire at Santa Fe High School. It was only the second deadliest school shooting of 2018. Just three months earlier, the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School resulted in 17 deaths and 17 injuries.

What you can do:

  • Learn more about what works to prevent gun violence in schools. Then ask those who represent you in Congress to sign onto a resolution NOT to use federal funds to arm educators.
  • Connect with Everytown for Gun Safety to fight for common sense laws that save lives.

9 responses to “Lawmakers in these 6 states are pushing to arm teachers

  1. If you think there is a teaher shortage now, just wait if these laws are passed. I hate that people who are NOT professional educators think the know what is best for professional educators. What if Doctors or Attorneys had to take advice from teachers. Makes me sick!

    1. Amen! Betsy de Voss ,trump have always gone to private schools they hv no interest in public education ! Enough said! I hv always gone to public schools @ have my 3 degrees s from public institutions , and taught in public institutions !

  2. There is NO good way for a teacher to carry a gun…Seriously. Women in particular who make up the majority of teachers would do what? Wear it on a holster? Carry her purse all day long? Seriously?..Be forced to wear pants so she can attach a gun to her leg?
    Come on…
    The logical place for said gun were it to be brought to class by the teacher would be to lock it in the file cabinet. Hmm. In a shooter incident, how quickly could that teacher access the gun? Put it in the desk drawer? locked? unlocked? Hey why not wear a holster?
    SERIOUSLY…This is really the dumbest solution ever.
    That also presumes teacher training in use of guns…What if , like myself, you couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn no matter what? I know this because my kid’s cub scout leader thought all the moms at camp needed to engage in the shooting range just like he was.

    We have had public schools for two centuries. This gun-in-school thing has grown to ridiculous proportions…and please don’t tell me keeping an office of the law is a good idea too. They don’t really have a whole lot to do …but you’d be amazed at how they can really miss the target when it comes to getting along with all students. They end up patrolling parking lots at high schools and “ticketing” kids who park next to the closest door when said student is late for class. They spend their time writing up kids who split for lunch off campus…Policing is really not a thing schools need…and I can tell you nothing scares me more than giving these guys ( county deputies at best) free rein and guns on campus.
    The problem is increased proportionately by the p.r. received and reported…and again I point out, how poorly the local gendarmes are trained and how they view their role.
    I have never talked to a teacher who thinks teachers need to carry a weapon. AND I am sure having local yokels from the town is definitely NOT a good idea. They are too likely to have only a modicum of training and sense.
    PLEASE disagree with Betsy…(who btw knows absolutely nothing about schools.esp public schools having never attended one or possibly never been in one until she was appointed to the least likely job…unless the plan was to make all public schools into Amway affiliates.)

    1. It sounds like the NRA has Trump and DeVos along with state legislators in their pockets. There is no place in schools for guns. There is no reason for college campuses to allow weapons. Yesterday’s shooting at a Synagogue in my community is a sad reminder of the harm that Hate and Fear Mongering has caused. A nineteen year old has ruined his life and the lives of so many others, but the gun sellers don’t care. It is despicable what is being promoted as “safety”. Wake up America!

      1. It’s called the 2nd amendment, constitutional right. Did you ever stop and think why these shootings are happening? Guns have been in our society forever but school shootings are the last 20 years are so. Maybe it is because God and discipline have vanished from our society.

  3. Guns of war need to be removed from our supposed civil society! Elect Democrats because there ‘s absolutely no chance of gun reform under the crazy Republicans!

    1. Sad to say, however the weapons available to the public are NOT weapons of war. Please explain how more laws are going to stop people who are already breaking multiple laws. This isn’t a gun issue, it’s a people issue. Maybe if we make people accountable for their actions instead of excusing them.

  4. We don’t need more guns, we need fewer guns!!! I work in a school and I don’t want to carry a gun or work with a person that is carrying one. If I was a parent with school aged children I would seriously consider home schooling!! We need more educators for smaller classes and more counselors. Why are people who have no idea how a school operates making these stupid proposals!!!

    1. How many shootings have occurred at schools where teachers are armed?

      Why have the vast majority of school shootings occurred since Biden’s gun free zone law was pit into effect?

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