Majority In Survey Oppose Arming Teachers In VA Schools | #schoolshooting

VIRGINIA — School safety and gun measures are widely discussed in the aftermath of school shootings in the U.S. and the Uvalde, Texas school shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers was no exception. But a Virginia Patch survey on whether teachers should be armed as a safety measure found opposition. Other school safety measures to prevent shootings were supported by both sides.

The survey, open from the morning of Wednesday, July 20 through noon Monday, July 25, received 537 responses. When asked if they supported arming teachers in schools, 83.4 percent were opposed. The responses reflect 57.3 percent of respondents who have children in school and 42.7 percent who do not. The survey responses may be affected by the locations, as most of our Patch sites are located in the largely Democratic-leaning Northern Virginia region.

Readers had the option of explaining their support for or opposition to arming teachers. On the opposition side, some believe teachers should not have the responsibility of being trained to use guns.

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“Teachers have enough to worry about trying to teach kids in the middle of a pandemic and all of the other challenges facing schools,” one reader wrote. “We should not ask them to be police officers, too. And the more guns there are in schools, the more accessible they are to the students as well. Security guards and police officers have not done a good job of preventing shootings, why should we expect teachers to do any better?”

“Guns don’t kill people. People with guns kill people,” another person wrote. “Using firearms requires hours of instruction and practice in order for a person to be a safe user. Teachers have enough to do educating our children.”

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Some believe use of guns should be left to security personnel.

“School systems should institute rigid protocols for visitor & student entry and exit as well as have one or two armed security personnel,” one person wrote.

Those who supported arming teachers believe they would provide a line of defense against shooters.

“Average police response time is 4 to 6 minutes, and they aren’t even called until there are casualties, which means they are [too] late to help many of the victims of violence,” one person wrote. “Having defense already in the room would reduce the response time, saving lives, and reduce the attractiveness of schools as a target.”

Some who support arming teachers believe they should have a choice if they are comfortable.

“I support arming teachers only if they have been trained to use firearms and they are comfortable using a firearm,” one person wrote. “I believe it would deter someone from thinking they could shoot up a classroom and it would be an immediate first line defense.”

“If a teacher is willing, there is benefit to being armed in order to protect students/self if the unthinkable happens…teachers should not be forced to be armed,” another shared.

Other ideas for school safety

While not all respondents agreed on the subject of arming teachers, there were some common school security ideas shared by both sides. Some of these ideas included securing entrances, officers or security guards in schools, metal detectors or other screening measures, locking doors from the inside, improving mental health resources.

“Well trained school resource officers have been and can continue to be a positive presence in schools when they function as active, engaged members of the school community,” one person opposed to arming teachers shared. “Serious adherence to safety measures in schools such as locking all entrances during the school day and requiring all visitors to be buzzed in by office personnel and checked in restricts unauthorized entrance to schools.”

“Again, gun violence like Uvalde and Marjorie Stoneman happen because these individuals know it’s an open shooting range with no real security,” a person favoring arming teachers shared. “As the world progresses, schools need to progress and realize our kids safety comes first.”

Other measures supported by those opposed to arming teachers are a hotline for tips, practice drills, investigating sexual and gender-based harassment, and more. But some the solution should be gun control measures, decided by governments rather than schools.

“Arming school personnel is a dangerous idea,” one person wrote. “Would teachers be trained on operating an AR15 since that would level the playing field against attackers? Absolutely ridiculous! Military style arms should be banned.”

“There should not be any guns in schools. Period,” another person wrote. “The fact that society thinks there needs to be is a huge part of the problem. We need to focus on mental health and preventing mass shootings in the first place.”

Those supporting arming teachers did not share the same support for gun control measures. Other school security measures ideas shared in addition to arming teachers included firearms safety training, gun safety courses, allowing concealed carry permit holders to carry on school grounds, and bullying prevention measures. Their comments focused on prevention of shooting rather than restricting guns.

“Guns have been around for a long time,” one person shared. “It is only recently that mental health issues are not being addressed. Govt provided mental health resources would help reduce the number of school shootings, coupled with defensive measures such as metal detectors, locking all external doors, requiring ID’s of visitors and certifying certain teachers to be armed.”

“Almost every single school shooter has shown signs before the attack that they were a likely candidate to become a shooter,” another wrote. “We have to address these kids before it reaches a point where they feel the ‘solution’ is to murder their classmates. Early and effective intervention is key to preventing the problem from escalating.”

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