The recent horrific shooting in Uvalde, Texas, has brought the issue of school and gun safety to the forefront of our public conversation. Reasonably, many are asking how we can better protect our school children and prevent school shootings or other such incidents in the future. Can you identify which of the following statements is the lie?
A. Schools with armed school staff are safer than those without armed school staff.
B. Teachers don’t want to carry a gun. They want to teach.
C. Arming school staff can be done safely, with proper training.
Let’s take these statements one at a time:
A. TRUTH! According to a 2019 study by the Crime Research Prevention Center, the number of people killed in school shootings has been on a steady increase over the past twenty years. Although the numbers are relatively small when considered statistically, each single life lost is devastating to the family that lost that loved one.
During the same time period, the number of people killed in school shootings where armed staff programs are in effect, has remained flat: at zero. This speaks to the deterrent effect of killers knowing that they would be met with lethal force if they tried to take lives at that school.
B. LIE! Enough school staffers want to be armed on campus to make for a safer campus. There is no policy anywhere that would require a school employee to carry a firearm. These policies are always based on volunteers. And according to a 2018 poll by Gallup, 73% of teachers oppose carrying guns in school. But it’s not necessary for all school staff members to support the policy. Those who do support the policy, then go through the process of ongoing extensive training to become authorized to carry on campus, are enough to make the campus safer.
It’s also important to look at what consistently happens in these massacres: school staff members put their bodies between bullets and children often die in the process. They have the mindset to save children. Those with the mindset —and the training— to carry a firearm should be allowed to.
C. TRUTH! People ask a lot of questions about how safe armed staff programs are, as they should. Common questions include: What if a student gets a teacher’s gun? What if the police mistake the armed staffer for the killer? What if there is an accident involving an armed teacher and her gun and someone gets hurt?
There are no reports of students getting an armed teacher’s gun. Yet, in training such as that offered by FASTER Colorado and FASTER Saves Lives, they learn concealment and weapon retention techniques.
There have not been any incidents with armed staff having armed encounters with law enforcement. But training covers that potentially dangerous linkup with law enforcement. There are also new technologies that help law enforcement recognize who is armed on campus in the event of a mass shooting.
Training also focuses a significant amount of time on safety, so that there aren’t accidents. There has been one report of a negligent discharge of a firearm on a Utah Campus. No one was hurt, but a round was fired into a toilet in the staff restroom. Any negligent discharge is unacceptable, but one incident in decades is not a trend.
We need to find practical solutions to prevent massacres such as the recent one in Uvalde, TX. Lawmakers in Congress will continue to fight over gun rights and school protection but teachers are able to take the step on their own to protect their students.