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Arming Teachers Is a Terrible Idea

Teachers Want to Teach Big

By Robin Lloyd, Director of Government Affairs

Late last night, Americans learned that the Trump Administration, namely Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, is considering allowing states to use federal funding to arm teachers in schools. Nothing like this has ever happened in my lifetime. As the New York Times puts it:

“Such a move appears to be unprecedented, reversing a longstanding position taken by the federal government that it should not pay to outfit schools with weapons.”

It’s not hard to figure out why—it’s a bad idea. Here’s why:

Teachers don’t want to carry guns in school.

82% of teachers polled in March 2018 said they wouldn’t carry a gun to school, including 63% of teachers who own guns. In the words of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), arming teachers would “not only would make our children’s classrooms less safe, but also is not what educators and students want.”

Law enforcement doesn’t want teachers to carry guns in school.

Law enforcement officers undergo extensive firearm training in order to respond to crisis scenarios. Teachers don’t. More guns in an active shooter situation makes it more difficult for police officers to identify the shooter and respond, making the situation more dangerous. That’s what happened in Tucson when my boss, former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, was shot. It happened again in a Colorado shopping center in November. We cannot risk this happening in schools with our children in the crossfire.

Arming teachers will lead to more gun injuries and deaths, not fewer.

Since 2014, there have been over 30 publicly-reported incidents where a gun was fired or negligently handled by armed adults at schools, including some where a police officer unintentionally discharged the weapon. We’ve seen this in just the past couple of months: a Georgia social studies instructor fired his gun after barricading himself in his classroom in a time of personal stress and a Virginia school resource officer accidentally fired his gun in his office.

Finally, no evidence exists that arming teachers would deter a shooter.

There is broad awareness that teachers are not effective deterrents in active shooter situations. In fact, many insurance companies refuse to insure schools allowing teachers to carry guns, recognizing the threat posed by untrained individuals in crisis situations.

This isn’t a tough call. We know more guns won’t make kids safer. We know what does work to keep kids and schools safe: gun safety laws, like background checks and extreme risk protection orders, that keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. We can’t let this misguided proposal put our kids’ lives at risk.