Should teachers carry guns in classrooms?
Arming teachers and school staff sounds radical to some people, but it’s a simple and effective option to respond to deadly threats in our schools. Objections spring from ignorance about the reality of mass murder and the role school staff can play to stop it.
Consider common misconceptions:
- Teachers don’t want firearms training to stop school shooters.
Some don’t. But many do. After the Sandy Hook school murders in 2012, our charitable foundation worked with law-enforcement training experts to develop a program called FASTER Saves Lives (FASTERSavesLives.org).
Based on current best practices in “active killer” response, FASTER offers advanced training for volunteer school personnel at no cost to schools or employees. Plus, the training includes simple traumatic medical care to quickly stop bleeding from life-threatening wounds.
When we announced our first class for 24 Ohio teachers, opponents said no one would sign up. However, more than 1,000 applied. By the end of 2018, we will have trained more than 2,000 in 250 school districts across 15 states, including 82 of Ohio’s 88 counties, with 2,000 more on a waiting list.
- Teachers aren’t trained as well as police.
Officers graduating from OPOTA (Ohio Police Officer Training Academy) have little or no active-killer training. Plus, general firearms training represents only a tiny fraction of what they learn at the academy.
FASTER provides teachers with 27 hours of intensive, hands-on active-killer training. And that’s not counting the many hours of training to get the required Concealed Handgun License from the state, go through our Foundational Gun Skills Class or attend additional Level II and III FASTER classes, which often include realistic training on school property working with local police and sheriff departments.
Moreover, teachers who volunteer to carry at school tend to be those who carry firearms outside of schools and have a lifetime of firearms experience, in most cases significantly more than the average police officer.
- Teachers carrying a concealed handgun destroy the learning environment.
How? In Ohio, more than 650,000 people, 1 of every 14 adults, is licensed to carry a handgun and does so in restaurants, malls, public parks and nearly everywhere else without anyone even noticing. Why would a school be any different?
Thirty-six states already allow teachers to carry firearms at school, and 19 of these states have programs in place. In Texas and Utah, teachers and staff have been carrying guns for more than a decade. Where are the reports of “destroyed” learning environments in all these locations?
- If there’s a school shooting, kids will get caught in the crossfire.
The vast majority of real-world gunfights are over in less than 10 seconds. How could seconds of exchanged gunfire possibly be worse than a 10-minute execution-style massacre?
And that’s the heart of the issue, because it’s not about guns. It’s about time. The more time a killer has, the more people die. Based on past mass shootings, on average there are 12 to 16 deaths if you wait for police to arrive, but only two to three if someone confronts the killer immediately. So the FASTER you stop the killing, the fewer casualties you have. Some incidents end with no deaths because an armed person was there to stop it. These events seldom make national headlines.
Mass murderers aren’t looking for a fight; they’re looking for a slaughter. Teachers don’t have to be Rambo to stop them. In almost every case, an aggressive challenge by anyone can stop the killing quickly. The clock starts when a killer enters a school with a gun. People keep dying until another gun arrives on the scene.
Forget the politics and be honest. If it’s your kid at school when the slaughter starts, would you rather have armed teachers and staff right there at the scene, or would you prefer everyone were defenseless, helplessly waiting 5, 10, 15 minutes or more for police to show up and stop the killer before he aims his gun at your kid?
Look your child in the eyes when you answer that question.
Dean Rieck is Executive Director of Buckeye Firearms Association.