While details are still emerging about a shooting at a Colorado school this week that left at least one dead and eight others injured, the debate over school safety is already heating up.
In predictable fashion, folks on either side of the gun divide are rehashing their solutions on how best to protect school children. One of the more controversial suggestions, as you know, is arming teachers.
Most of us within the gun community support arming teachers because we recognize a few basic facts:
- The most effective way to stop armed attackers is to engage them with armed responders.
- The longer it takes for armed responders to arrive on the scene to confront the armed attackers, the more children, teachers, and staff are likely to die.
- Almost anyone can be trained to be an effective armed responder.
- If armed responders are already present at a school when an attack begins, the response time is immediate and more people are likely to survive the encounter.
Gun-control advocates vehemently disagree with that logic. They reject the idea that willing and capable professional educators can learn how to become effective armed responders. Moreover, they suggest that these armed teachers would present a threat to their students.
Shannon Watts said on Twitter Tuesday, “Soon, NRA lapdogs will say that the teachers in Highlands Ranch should have been armed. Shame them. Shun them.”
The founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America continued, “The Second Amendment is a framework for lawmaking, not a suicide pact.”
Soon, @NRA lapdogs will say that the teachers in Highlands Ranch should have been armed. Shame them. Shun them.
The Second Amendment is a framework for lawmaking, not a suicide pact.
Our lawmakers have the power to stop this. https://t.co/yD3Y48GvZc
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) May 7, 2019
New research from the Crime Prevention Research Center flies in the face of those concerns. Based on the data collected over the past 18 years or so, schools that arm teachers are safer than those that do not.
“There has yet to be a single case of someone being wounded or killed from a shooting, let alone a mass public shooting, at a school that lets teachers carry guns,” states the research paper entitled, “Schools that Allow Teachers to Carry Guns are Extremely Safe: Data on the Rate of Shootings and Accidents in Schools that allow Teachers to Carry.“
“Fears of teachers carrying guns in terms of such problems as students obtaining teachers guns have not occurred at all, and there was only one accidental discharge outside of school hours, with no harm,” it continues.
“The average rate of death or injury from shooting is 0.039 per 100,000 students across all schools (so the rate is higher among schools that don’t allow teachers to carry), while it is 0 per 100,000 in schools with armed teachers. While there have not been any problems at schools with armed teachers, the number of people killed at other schools has increased significantly – doubling from 2001 and 2008 to 2009 and 2018,” it concludes.
This graph tells the tale:
To be clear, no one from the gun community is arguing that all teachers should be armed. It would incredibly stupid to compel every teacher, regardless of their feelings and comfortability with firearms, to carry in the classroom. No one is suggesting that.
What we are suggesting is that for districts and communities who cannot afford armed security or SROs, that they at least consider the prospect of arming and training those teachers willing to heed the call.
As the CPRC data indicates, arming teachers does not imperil the lives of students. That “suicide pact” comment from Watts is completely unfounded. The truth is quite the opposite, schools that arm teachers are safer than those that do not. Something to keep in mind as this debate rages on.