Armed Teachers in Schools – Helpful or Harmful?

ArmedTeachersDuring the past year, twenty states have enacted new school safety legislation allowing armed security officers in schools, including elementary schools.  Additionally, various schools in Texas, Utah, Arkansas, Kansas, and South Dakota allow authorized teachers the option to carry firearms.  Further, the National Rifle Association recommends that all U.S. schools should have police or armed teachers and staff members trained to confront shooters.  The following list complied by the Huffington Post provides information on eighteen states that allow teachers or other adults to carry loaded firearms on school grounds:

  • Alabama:  Prohibits possessing a firearm on school grounds only if the carrier has ‘intent to do bodily harm.’
  • California:  Permits carrying a firearm on school grounds if a person has ‘the written permission of the school district superintendent, his or her designee, or equivalent school authority.’
  • Connecticut:  Permits carrying a firearm on school grounds if agreed to by school officials.
  • Hawaii:  Generally does not prohibit the carrying of guns in schools.
  • Idaho:  Permits carrying a firearm on school grounds ‘as an appropriate part of a program, an event, activity or other circumstance approved by the board of trustees or governing board.’
  • Iowa:  Permits carrying a firearm on school grounds if ‘a person has been specifically authorized by the school.’
  • Kentucky:  Permits carrying firearms on campus if the person has been ‘authorized to carry a firearm by the board of education.’
  • Massachusetts:  Permits carrying firearms on school grounds with the authorization of the school board or principal.
  • Mississippi:  Permits carrying firearms on campus in a ‘school-approved program conducted under the supervision of an adult whose supervision has been approved by the school authority.’
  • Montana:  Permits carrying firearms on school grounds with the permission of a school district’s trustees.
  • New Hampshire:  Does not have a law prohibiting non-students from possessing firearms on school grounds.
  • New Jersey:  Permits carrying firearms on school grounds with ‘the written authorization of the governing officer of the institution.’
  • New York:  Permits carrying firearms on school grounds with written authorization from the school.
  • Oregon:  Permits carrying guns on school grounds with authorization from the school board, or the ‘agency that controls the public building.’
  • Rhode Island:  Permits carrying firearms on school grounds with a state concealed weapons permit.
  • Texas:  Permits carrying firearms on campus with written authorization from the school.
  • Utah:  Permits carrying firearms on campus with the approval of the ‘responsible school administrator.’
  • Wyoming:  Does not have a general prohibition on the possession of firearms on school property, but bars concealed weapons with or without a permit.

Guns In Schools:  Firearms Already Allowed In 18 States With Few Restrictions, The Huffington Post, (Jan. 15, 2013, 5:00 pm EST, Updated: Jan. 15, 2013 5:09, pm EST), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/15/guns-in-schools-firearms-_n_2482168.html.

However, several states have faced opposition to proposed legislation allowing schoolteachers to carry handguns.  Some parents have voiced concerns that teachers carrying guns will actually increase the number of school shootings.  Other individuals argue that it is law enforcement’s job to patrol safety in the classroom, and teachers carrying handguns will be distracted from their intended focus:  teaching students.  Lastly, some critics argue that teachers are role models for students and having them carry handguns encourages kids’ interest in guns.  As a result of the aforementioned concerns, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Oklahoma are no longer pursuing passage of the legislation.

Reactions to the issue of whether schoolteachers should be allowed to carry handguns have been sharply divided.  Should licensed school personnel be allowed to carry handguns to protect their students?  Or, does an answer to the issue depend on the facts occurring in each individual school; therefore, what is appropriate on one campus is inappropriate on another?  Should schools only allow armed security officers on campuses?  Or, should all guns be banned from schools?

Tracey Toll

About Tracey Toll

Tracey Toll is a second year student at the University of Houston Law Center. She attended undergraduate school at Butler University and received a B.F.A., cum laude, with High Honors in Dance Performance. After graduating, Tracey performed with Ballet Austin for three years. During that time, she participated in Ballet Austin’s program in which dancers performed and taught movement to at-risk children at schools throughout the Austin area. After leaving Ballet Austin, Tracey worked as a paralegal practicing insurance defense and product liability defense, which led to her interest in attending law school. Since starting law school, Tracey has interned for two federal judges at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, and she spent the past summer working as a Summer Associate with a law firm specializing in civil litigation in areas such as products liability, commercial litigation, labor and employment, and insurance coverage. Additionally, she is a member of the Houston Journal of Health Law and Policy. Tracey looks forward to the opportunity to work in the area of children’s rights and to advocate for children.

5 thoughts on “Armed Teachers in Schools – Helpful or Harmful?

  1. December 17, 2013 at 3:35 AM

    I believe that if guns are allowed on school grounds for the purpose of defending students that it should be done in the most responsible way possible.

    Guns should not be carried by teachers but kept securely locked up within a gun safe in a room with security personnel guarding the premises day and night.

    Guns don’t only take lives but save lives as well.

    1. Joe
      January 19, 2014 at 12:42 PM

      I like the idea of guns being allowed in schools. It would cause potential shooters to avoid the school grounds in my opinion.

      1. Randy
        February 2, 2014 at 8:51 PM

        Yes. I agree with you Joe. We must be prepare for anything bad that could happen in school.

  2. Stephen
    October 31, 2013 at 4:56 PM

    Just what will a teacher do when a kid pulls out a toy gun that looks real, or another child runs into class saying that someone has a gun. Police have enough difficulty with these kind of things. The reality is that it is unlikely a teacher, janitor or administrator will be able to deal with a suicidal shooter with an AK and high capacity clips. Let’s get real.

  3. September 10, 2013 at 10:36 PM

    I lead the Texas chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. We are a grassroots group that formed in the wake of the tragedy at Newtown. We are Republican,s, Democrats, gun owners and non-gun owners. We support the right to own guns, but also support what we consider (and the majority of Americans consider) to be common sense regulations to protect our children and society from gun violence. Nearly 8 children die daily from gun violence every day in the US.

    Our group generally opposes guns on school campuses, and certainly opposes their presence when not carried by licensed, trained law enforcement. We share the objections you raised. Furthermore, research shows that where a person owns a gun, it is statistically many times more likely that the gun will be used AGAINST the owner rather than it being used to successfully fend off an attack. It’s not a coincidence that multiple insurance carriers have pulled or threatened to pull coverage from schools that adopt these kinds of policies.

    Moms Demand Action believes a stronger background check system, limited magazine size and limiting availability of military assault style weapons are good starting places to protect schools from gun violence – in addition to thorough security systems and close cooperation with law enforcement.

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