Simple Questions and Answers about Arming Teachers

Faster School Training Safety Students Guns Teachers
Faster School Training Safety Students Guns Teachers

U.S.A. –-(  Defending our students is a serious issue. It deserves more thought than a sound bite or a tweet. Unfortunately, politics is driven by emotion rather than reason, by appearances rather than by facts. I’ve heard bad arguments about arming teachers and about disarming them. Let's look at the issue piece at a time. Let’s separate fact from fiction.

Perhaps you’ve heard this.

Should teachers be armed at school?

Each of us has something different in mind when we think about “allowing guns in schools.” Even the definition of school is different from state to state. Regulations may extend from daycare facilities to postgraduate research sites and hospitals. These “schools” may be privately owned, operated by a church, or publicly funded. Do the regulations cover the classroom during school hours, or the parents’ van when students are on a field trip after school? Describing what we mean eliminates a lot of soundbite confusion.

The issue is complicated. Who is responsible for authorizing armed staff? Is it the school principal, the school board, or the local sheriff? Usually, they are all involved in approving a program and selecting volunteers.

“I’ll quit teaching if they make me carry a gun in class.”

I’ve studied this subject for years and I have not found a single example of school staff being ordered to carry on campus. ‘The programs allow trained and authorized staff to be armed rather than forcing anyone to carry a gun at school.

Should selected school staff be allowed to go armed to protect themselves and others?

A school board usually makes the decision to arm staff. The board then looks for volunteers who already have a concealed carry permit. If selected, then the volunteers are often screened by the sheriff. Training may be local or at the state level.

Teachers don’t want to carry guns.

The answer you get depends on who you ask. Recent training classes for school staff have been full to overflowing. I know of training programs which trained over a thousand educators yet they had to turn qualified teachers away because they didn’t have enough money to train everyone who wanted to attend. Fortunately, enough teachers want to be trained to protect our students.

Guns don’t belong at school. That isn’t a place for violence.

This statement confuses reality with fantasy. In fact, violence is in our schools every day and has been for awhile. Our children are more likely to be the victims of violence in our schools than when they are at home. Students are more likely to be killed by violence in schools than by accidents like fire or earthquake. We conduct fire and earthquake drills at school, but we ignored the greater threat of deliberate violence..until now.

I’m here to love and nurture these kids. How does a gun help me do that? Guns aren’t the answer. How can violence ever stop violence?

A firearm is a tool. That tool can help stop people from perpetrating violence against others. That is the very reason a million law enforcement officers carry a gun. That is why about 20 million civilians legally carry a concealed firearm in public. Armed defense only is part of a safety solution that also includes door locks, first aid kits, and training.

Leave the guns for the police, not for school staff.

We have not seen a gun-free school. Time is the enemy when an attacker comes on campus. Police need minutes to respond to the attacker. It may take EMTs hours to treat the injured. That means too many students will die while we wait. Volunteers at school want to stop the threat and treat the injured until help arrives. What tools should we give them?

Policemen have training that teachers don’t, so teachers are not qualified to defend students.

Armed school staff are defenders. They don’t have to do the many jobs that we ask of the police. Teachers don’t need to make high-speed chases or write tickets. Teachers don't make arrests, preserve evidence, or testify in court. The program to train school staff varies from state to state, but in the programs I've seen, trained teachers did very well. They were required to perform above the level set for police officers in their shooting qualification.

Teachers also have hidden advantages over law enforcement. Teachers know their school and their students. Armed civilians are less likely to shoot innocent bystanders than the police.

We can’t arm staff because it is illegal to bring guns in school.

In some states it is legal and in some states it is illegal. School districts arm school staff in Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Utah, Texas, Arkansas, Indiana, and Ohio. Hundreds of school districts have programs in place. Thousands of teachers are armed in schools today. Unfortunately, I’ve heard school and law enforcement officials lie about what can be done inside the law. If necessary, we can and should change laws to protect our students. 

Our insurance company won't let us bring guns on campus.

That may be true, but it isn’t the whole truth. Some insurance companies ensure schools and churches with armed staff. The insurance rates are comparable with unprotected schools. Insurance companies look at risks. Leaving our children unprotected presents a risk of loss and of lawsuits. Arming teachers presents some risk depending on the level of training that school staff receives.

We shouldn’t have to arm teachers.

We already protect our students today. We design our schools to withstand fire and natural disasters. We protect our students from people as well as from nature. We don’t release the children to strangers, and we report abuse when we see it. We want to protect our students from every threat they face.

Some school staff want to protect students from bad people who come on campus. I want to encourage them and thank them. They are there to protect my children when I can’t be there.


What do you think about arming trained school staff? RM

About Rob MorseSlow Facts

The original article is here.  Rob Morse writes about gun rights at Ammoland, at Clash Daily, and on his SlowFacts blog. He hosts the Self Defense Gun Stories Podcast and co-hosts the Polite Society Podcast. Rob is an NRA pistol instructor and combat handgun competitor.

  • 14 thoughts on “Simple Questions and Answers about Arming Teachers

    1. My daughter (age 50) is a middleschool teacher in a very conservative district. She has become familiar with a pistol and has a weapon at home but I have doubts as to her ability to act in a crisis. She could be if willing and properly trained.

      My son also a schoolteacher at junior/senior high school is very familiar with weapons and has a conseal carry permit. One of his hobbies is skeet and trap shooting. His district is completely different with children coming from less than desirable home environments. He is of the opinion (liberal influenced by union) that teachers are there to teach. Should he be inspired to volunteer to be a designated consealed teacher I’m sure he could be trained to become a positive in a crisis situation.

      My background is military (1960-1986) with infantry background and have had the experienced responsibility as officer in charge of pistol, rifle and many other weapons ranges and have had the experience as a weapons instructor.

      The properly trained schoolteacher must carry concealed a semi-automatic pistol to engagement possibilities. Concealed carry also protect from a student attempting to take away the weapon. Also the teacher has the element of surprise to the perpetrator. It is a must that voluntary well trained teachers take on the responsibility of being armed to protecting students and themselves.

    2. Not all teachers have the intelligence, morality or judgement to carry a firearm. In Preston, Idaho, about 300 miles east of Boise, a teacher fed a live puppy to a snapping turtle. The school would not discuss the animals involved, other than to say it happened during an after-school feeding. A school spokes person is unsure how many students were present at the time the incident occurred.
      Read more here:

      What kind of asshole feeds a live puppy to another animal?

      1. The kind of subhuman asshole who definitely would NOT in any way qualify to be trained with any weapon, and who would not be allowed to carry a firearm in school – in fact, he would be specifically prohibited from doing so.

    3. “Guns don’t belong at school. That isn’t a place for violence.”

      – Fire extinguishers don’t belong at school. That isn’t a place for fires.

      “Leave the guns for the police, not for school staff.”

      – When seconds count, police are only minutes away.

      “Policemen have training that teachers don’t, so teachers are not qualified to defend students.”

      – When the killer is standing three feet away from you, pointing his gun at you and about to kill you, the only “training” you need is to point your gun at him and pull the trigger until he is lying on the ground not about to kill you anymore.

    4. This is a real story! My wifes cousin over at Thanksgiving and the conversation of guns cane up. She did not want a gun in her house. Her husband travels a lot so I ask what she would do if at 2am someone broke into their house. Her reply was to hide in a closet with their daughter and call 911. I told her to call local police and get the average response time to her location, she did, it was 9 minutes. Here husband bought a gun, and showed her how to use it and told her it would be in the closet. Only a few weeks later her door was kicked in just after midnight. Her and daughter went to the closet. She got the gun, her daughter dialed 911. 8 minutes later the police arrived to a bloody scene and was able to track the guy to local woods. She was lucky! The moral is this, without a gun they were at the intruders mercy! Same thing at school, locked it room with a gun in capable hands, they have a chance. Gun security, and training is a must!

      1. A happy convert! I’m sorry she had to be converted by being scared to death. But the 8 minute response time underlines the reason our “betters” have armed security with them at all times. A true story like this is what anti-gun people call an “anecdote”, by which they mean the “exception that proves the rule.” They ignore the simple fact that a collection of anecdotes is called “history.”

    5. Like it or not, the only sure way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Unfortunately, there are three drawbacks in allowing teachers and school staff members to carry concealed weapons:

      (1) Human nature being what it is, it is inevitable that some armed teacher will leave a gun in a desk drawer, briefcase, or purse, to be found by a student.

      (2) Armed school staff will be at a terrible disadvantage using small concealable handguns against a heavily armed active shooter who may be wearing body armor.

      (3) Armed teachers will be in mortal danger from law enforcement officers responding to reports of an active shooter.

      In my opinion, the best solution to mitigating the casualty count in school active shooter incidents is to pre-stage AR-15 or similar rifles in secure, alarmed containers at numerous locations on the campus, along with armored clearly identifiable “raid” jackets for responding school staff. Specially trained teachers and staff members need only carry a key to the container, greatly reducing the chance of a weapon falling into the wrong hands. Upon hearing an alarm, or shots fired, responding teachers could don the raid jacket and take up an effective weapon within seconds, when delay equates to lost lives. Responding law enforcement would be instantly able to identify “good guy” armed responders.

      Pre-staging effective weapons and protective gear like we do fire extinguishers will minimize the danger of weapons on campus, while maximizing the chances of quickly stopping an armed intruder.

      My Credentials: I have more than 40 years of law enforcement and law enforcement training experience. I am a retired Special Agent of the US Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID), and am the retired Director of Advanced Force Tactics, Inc., a firm devoted to teaching judgmental use of force and gunfighting tactics, including active shooter response, to law enforcement agencies nationwide.

      1. Sounds like a police response. Remember that when seconds count, the police are only minutes away. When a maniac bursts through a classroom door a teacher inside is more likely to be able to protect students if armed with anything. Time to deal with a locked vault, body armor, etc. would be non-existent.

      2. To address your concerns:
        1. A “ responsible” teacher or staff member would not be leaving a weapon in a desk drawer, briefcase, or purse. To be permitted to be armed on school property, they would be “required” to always have their weapon on their person, concealed.

        2. Although small, easily concealed handguns are ineffective with penetrating body armor, an active shooter isn’t expecting immediate armed resistance inside of a school and would tend to keep moving if any resistance was met.
        Additionally, body armor does not protect ones head and though one is usually taught to aim “ center mass” when shooting defensively, head shots are also practiced!

        3. A teacher wouldn’t be in “ mortal danger” from police responding to an “ active shooter” incident if they are protecting their students by staying in their classroom, watching the door, ready to defend!
        Teachers & staff who are armed would also be taught to disarm and put their hands up and announce that they are an armed teacher when and if they saw uniformed officers approaching!

        I don’t like the idea of rifles being placed in locked special containers, like fire extinguishers, throughout the complex for several reasons:
        1. Schools aren’t patrolled 24-7, 365 days a year and when the school is empty, these weapons would become the target for thieves!
        2. If you were concerned about teachers leaving a weapon where it could be found by some student, why would that teacher remember to always have that special key on their person?
        3. I would want the teacher to stay in their classroom protecting their students, not leaving their students to run down the hall, where the shooter may be roaming, trying to get to a rifle locker, fumble with the key (if they remembered to bring it) open the locker, put on a brightly colored identification vest, grab the rifle, insert a magazine, chamber a round and then run back to protect the students they left behind.

        If teachers are armed, I don’t see them going on “search and destroy” missions trying to find an active shooter, I see them “sheltering in place” with their students and acting defensively should the need arise!

        Armed non teaching staff may be watching a hallway for the approach of an active shooter, or trying to work their way towards the sound of gunfire to take defensive action, but I don’t believe their training, prior to being cleared to carry concealed at school, would include SWAT type activity. This would be defensive training, not aggressive training.

        1. Dave,

          I must respectfully disagree with you based on my 40+ years of law enforcement and law enforcement training experience. I agree that a “responsible” teacher or staff member wouldn’t leave a gun laying around for a kid to find, but that has already happened. Back in the day, I had trouble keeping my Special Agents from leaving their service weapons in their desk drawers, on occasion. As I said, it’s just human nature!

          Expecting well-trained officers to make head shots in a gunfight is unrealistic. Sure, a marginally trained teacher might do it, but chances are much greater that (s)he will absorb a number of 5.56mm rounds before achieving that goal.

          Your expectation that teachers would hunker down and protect their students is unrealistic. Not every teacher will choose to be armed, so, let’s say, 10% would be. An active shooter would then have a 90% chance of being able to slaughter a classroom full of students without opposition. The whole purpose of arming teachers is to provide timely response to an active shooter. Sure, having to open a locked container to retrieve a rifle wouldn’t be as fast as whipping out a concealed handgun, but would be a lot more effective, and orders of magnitude better than waiting for law enforcement to show up minutes later. Oh, and if the teacher is hunkering down with students in a room, will (s)he know it’s law enforcement when the door suddenly bursts open. If (s)he is holding a gun pointed at the door, (s)he will be shot by the first officer through the door without warning. Trust me on this. I trained them to do so.

          Security of the weapons is an issue in an empty school building, but, hello! that’s why we have alarms that will ring not only in the building, but in the nearest law enforcement agency the instant one of the lockers is opened.

          Your suggestions seem to combine the worst aspects of arming teachers with the worst aspects of waiting for the police. Your opinion may vary.

          Gary L. Griffiths

    6. “In loco parentis”. In my time as a public educator, I was legally liable for the safety and well being of the children in my care. There were times I ended a fight between students by myself. That is a mindset all educators should have.
      That mindset came form love for the children ( as a parent ) more than love of self. I had children actually ask me ;”what would you do if a shooter came into our school?” My reply “I would do whatever I could to end the event. “

    7. It is the height of conceit to say that going to school or working in a school skills be a death sentence.

      A closer look will show that government is the root cause of most of the deaths in school shootings: the decision to make arbitrary lines where adults cannot defend themselves and their students/children; lack of family values since trying to break families through’entitlement’ welfare programs; continually countering the family in public schools while decrying that they know best because they are academics with all the ‘best’ diplomas and guessed from ‘research’; discouraging the use of weapons and similar tools by parents kids as evil rather than as a way to self sufficiency.

      …”for the children”…

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