These days, teachers are doing more than just teaching the ABCs. They’re now responsible for the safety of their students and themselves. Three states are considering whether concealed carry is the best way to keep schools safe.
State governments in Colorado, North Dakota, and Wyoming are currently considering bills that would allow concealed carry in K-12 schools. A teacher’s ability to carry a concealed handgun in the school classroom varies from state to state. Some must register with the school board, while other states like Utah do not require the teacher to tell anyone. If someone should consider attacking a Utah school, they’ll enter not knowing who may be armed and ready to defend themselves and students with lethal force.
Among the arguments against concealed carry in schools, the fear that students are actually in more danger stands tallest. Some parents and teacher groups argue that if a concealed handgun is accidentally discovered or fired, it’s the students that could suffer.
Last year, a Utah teacher accidentally discharged her concealed handgun in the bathroom before the start of the school day. There were no lethal injuries and no teachers or students nearby, but news reports of the incident rose questions among parents’ groups about safety concerns.
There are strong arguments in favor of arming our nation’s teachers. Rural communities are in danger when you consider the fact that most active shooter situations in schools are over in ten minutes or less (LA County Sheriff’s Department). This puts them at a loss as they wait on a law enforcement response.
Without a concealed firearm, the tactics and weapons that teachers are taught to use against an active shooter are questionable. Some teachers are advised to use random classroom items like scissors, backpacks stuffed with books, chairs, or belts in defense against a killer determined to take the lives of children with a gun. A teacher swinging a belt or throwing a stapler at a killer with a gun is enough to give one pause.
Significant budget cuts at the state and local level can leave schools scrambling for security coverage. Reports from the U.S. Department of Education show that layoffs of counselors, decreases in sports and after school programming, and lack of security personnel all combine to increase the danger of incidents.
Ultimately, it’s up to elected state lawmakers to decide how teachers can best protect their students if an active shooter situation arises. Teachers that do decide to carry concealed handguns to school will be most effective if they undergo certification and tactical training that prepares them for protecting students in an active shooter situation.