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?