Debate Over Arming Teachers Resurfaces After Shootings

The Center Square
By The Center Square
June 3, 2022USshare
Debate Over Arming Teachers Resurfaces After Shootings
Wooden crosses are placed at a memorial dedicated to the victims of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on June 3, 2022. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The tragic and deadly shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, have renewed the debate over gun control measures, but another policy idea also has been thrust back to the forefront: arming teachers.

After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2013, Texas passed a law allowing teachers to sign up as firearm-carrying “marshals.” The program has not had widespread adoption. Several other states have laws allowing teachers to carry firearms on school grounds.

Now, Ohio is set to follow suit with its own plan to allow teachers to carry guns.

Ohio Republicans have spearheaded the issue in their state, passing a bill in both the House and the Senate this week that would reduce the amount of training teachers need to carry a gun to school from 700 hours to 24 initial hours followed by four recurring hours of training that the state’s attorney general would oversee. Ohio school districts would have the authority to add additional hour requirements. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said he intends to sign the bill.

Federal law prohibits carrying guns on K-12 school grounds but does allow exceptions for adults with state-issued licenses, leaving states wiggle room to create their own policies. So far, there is no nationwide consensus, and states have often deferred to local school districts.

The debate has been furthered after controversy surrounding the police response to the recent Texas shooting—the Uvalde shooter was active for over an hour inside the school before federal border agents confronted and killed him.

Newly released polling from Convention of States Action, along with the Trafalgar Group, found the majority of surveyed Americans say armed teachers would make schools safer. Currently, very few schools actually have teachers carrying weapons on school property.

The poll reports that “57.5 percent of American voters believe that preventing properly trained school teachers and school staff from carrying a firearm makes schools more dangerous” compared to 30.8 percent who say the opposite.

The poll surveyed 1,091 likely voters nationwide from May 25 through May 29 with a 2.9 percent margin of error. The poll’s results varied by political affiliation, with 57.1 percent of Independents and 67.5 percentof Republicans favoring arming teachers while 48.2 percent of Democrats said the same.

Notably, younger Americans were most supportive, with 61.8 percent of 18-24 year-olds saying that prohibiting properly trained teachers from carrying guns would make schools less safe.

Polling of teachers suggests they are not as supportive. A Gallup poll from 2019 found that 73 percent of surveyed teachers “oppose teachers and staff carrying guns in schools” and 58 percent said “carrying guns in schools would make schools less safe.”

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