31 States Now Allow Teachers to Carry Weapons
It’s as true in human psychology as it is in the wild: predators are attracted to weakness. There may be no clearer illustration of that than in the debate over gun control as it pertains to school safety. We have seen it over and over through the years, gun free zones are far more likely to become the site of a mass shooting than locations where no sweeping prohibitions against firearms exist.
The phenomenon tells us at least two things. It tells us that weakness is not a virtue. And it tells us that the true nature of whatever it is that motivates people to commit mass killings is something so evil, so dark and foul that it cares not for the mercy afforded to children that exists even in the majority of criminal populations.
Fortunately, a considerable portion of the country is not entirely blind to the fact that gun free zones attract would be mass killers. According to an analysis by GunsandAmerica.com, at the time of this writing, teachers or staff in the school districts of 31 states are legally permitted to carry weapons other than guns in schools. In five states, teachers and staff are explicitly permitted to carry firearms on school grounds. In another 26 states, local school districts are permitted to decide for themselves whether or not to allow teachers and school staff to be armed and to what degree.
Another eighteen states and Washington DC explicitly prohibit teachers to carry weapons on school campuses. In Pennsylvania, a court case is currently in the process of deciding whether local districts will allow teachers to be armed.
In addition to this, many schools have School Resource Officers (SRO). These are security personnel who are defined by the DOJ as “sworn law enforcement officers responsible for safety and crime prevention in schools.” In most cases, an SRO is a member of local law enforcement.
Despite all of this, there is still no standard of training for teachers who carry weapons. While many law-abiding gun owners adhere to a strict ethic of training, practice, and safety, many only complete some rudimentary competence practice and go to a range once or twice. It’s one thing for a legal gun owner to carry for self-defense and to have little training. But for anyone with little to no training to be expected to choke back fear and use their weapon effectively when a heavily armed maniac walks onto school grounds is not realistic.
Doug Hale, a Butler County Sheriff’s Deputy, told Guns and America, “I can remember when we first opened the building here, 22 years ago. You’d leave the doors unlocked. We never had a problem.”
This was before an attack on a Butler County school. After that event, when Hale waited outside while children were being killed, SROs started to get training to engage a shooter alone. He continues, “And so now we’re being trained in solo engagement. If something is going on, I’m the only one here. I’m not waiting on backup.”
It would seem that despite the hype against guns coming from the mainstream media, many communities are tentatively looking toward hardening the security profile of schools against attack. Still, there is a lot of reticence among educators to allow the presence of guns in schools to grow. That is understandable. It seems counterintuitive to have guns around children, though bitter experience is changing that.
But the reluctance of school boards to allow for the arming of teachers is causing some rather anti-strategic pro-gun policies to crop up. For one thing, parents are not being told how teachers are being trained and armed. As stated above, the vast majority of school districts where “weapons” are permitted, the types of weapons permitted is not clear.
This means parents may not know if an armed teacher has a semiautomatic .45, or a canister of mace the size of a stick of lip balm. Parents in some school districts have sued their school boards for more information on what teachers have and how they are trained. In many instances, this has revealed policies that would not serve students well in the event of an active shooting.
Still, things seem to be progressing toward good sense. We only hope that foresight, and not tragedy, will be the force that will drive future change.