Many Schools Already Arm Teachers and Staff, Use Metal Detectors
President Trump wants to arm some school teachers. Democrats object, claiming it won’t prevent school shootings and teachers don’t want it. But it’s already being done all over the country. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, about two dozen states allow staff to carry guns on campus.
After the Sandy Hook mass shooting in 2012, states passed laws letting teachers and staff carry firearms. There do not appear to be any shooting incidents at any schools with armed teachers. Democrats call for more gun control instead of arming teachers. That would probably have made little difference in Parkland or the other schools targeted by killers.
Armed teachers would probably have stopped killer Nikolas Cruz before he shot so many at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkdale, Fl. Even knowing some teachers could shoot back might have stopped him.
How Schools Have Implemented the Policy
At Argyle High School in Texas, a sign on the driveway into the campus warns, “Please be aware that the staff at Argyle are armed and may use whatever force is necessary to protect our students.” The school made the decision to arm teachers and staff after the Sandy Hook shooting. According to the Texas Assn. of School Boards, at least 170 districts (22 percent), allow employees and in some cases board members to carry firearms.
In Utah, state law permits anyone with a weapons permit to carry a gun in schools. School administrators and law enforcement can’t ask teachers whether they have a firearm, so it is unknown how many teachers carry.
The Garden Valley School District in Idaho began a program in 2015 that places school-owned rifles in safes throughout the school for teachers to access if they volunteer to participate. The Salmon River and Mountain View districts allow teachers to carry their own firearms. The districts are rural and cite slow response times from law enforcement and first responders as a reason to arm teachers and staff.
The Clarksville school district in Arkansas arms teachers, janitors, computer technicians and other staff members. The cost of training 13 wasn’t much more than the cost of a resource officer. Training costs were $68,000 annually compared to $50,000 to pay a resource officer. As with the Idaho schools, response time is a concern. “Every second that ticks by is a possibility of a life lost. What we’ve gathered from this is that it can be done, it can be done right,” the school system’s superintendent said.
In South Dakota, at least two school districts participate in a program arming teachers. A state law passed in 2013 implemented a school sentinel program, which arms school employees, security guards or volunteers.
Two school districts in Ohio arm teachers. The Sidney and Mad River school districts have trained an undisclosed number of teachers. The school has hidden safes where the guns are stored. The staff participating go through rigorous monthly training.
Even two school districts in the gun control state of California allow teachers or staff to carry firearms. Kingsburg Joint Union High School permits up to five employees to be armed. Wyoming allows teachers and staff to carry firearms provided the school approves. Michigan allows staff with concealed carry permits to have firearms.
Other states are in the process of implementing teacher carry. Indiana passed a law in 2013 giving school boards discretion to allow teachers and staff to carry firearms. Shannon Mattix, vice president of the North White school board, said that in his small, rural district, law enforcement responds more slowly than those in urban areas. “The district can’t afford to hire police officers or security guards,” he said. Administrators and school board members are going through the training. If teachers want to, Mattix said he’s open to that.
Some teachers are naturals for carrying. Dee Kramer, a ninth-grade English teacher at Silver Creek High School in Indiana, leads the school’s outdoor club, where she teaches kids about gun safety and takes them to the firing range to learn how to shoot. She is vice president of her local women’s gun club. She would like the school to pass a policy allowing her to carry, and laments that all she has to protect her students now is wasp spray.
Other Common Sense Solutions Already Implemented
At the listening session Trump held at the White House, principals of inner city schools in the Washington, D.C. area relayed how their schools use metal detectors. These keep guns out. 91 New York City schools have metal detectors. More scanners are on the way.
Some schools have devices that securely lock classroom doors from inside. Justin Rivard, a student at Somerset High School in Wisconsin, designed one. He named it the “JustinKase.” The steel apparatus latches to a door frame so no one can open the door. His school ordered one for every room in the school.
There don’t appear to be any serious mishaps from arming teachers and staff. In 2014, a teacher accidentally discharged her firearm in a school restroom. It did not strike anyone. Authorities charged the teacher with a misdemeanor.
President Trump also calls for other common-sense solutions, including private security and police officers in schools. As with armed teachers, many schools already do this.
Sadly, most Democrats would rather focus on gun control measures. They don’t want to look at realistic, common-sense measures that already work to stop school shootings. It’s not true that “teachers don’t want to be armed.” Many around the country already are.
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