HB 2549, which would arm schoolteachers in the name of “student safety,” has cleared its first hurdle and is headed next to the House Judiciary Committee.
Plans to arm teachers are always cloaked in the language of safety, but there is no evidence to support these claims. Putting more guns in a school will make it look and feel less like a place of learning and more like a penal institution.
Here are four reasons why we shouldn’t be arming our teachers.
- Arming teachers harms students’ trust in educators.
Researchers have consistently found that such measures harm students’ trust in educators, undermine positive school climate, and make it difficult for educators to create a safe and supportive environment for students. A lack of trust will result in students being reluctant to report issues to school staff and will only cause our schools to be less safe.
- Arming teachers won’t make our kids any safer.
Filling our schools with more weapons can only lead to one thing: guns falling into the wrong hands. Studies show people are much more likely to be shot, either by suicide, accident, or homicide, when guns are more readily available.
Multiple law enforcement agencies across the country have opposed proposals to arm school personnel, emphasizing that first responders will not be able to distinguish between the attacker and armed school staff when attempting to secure the premises.
Armed school personnel do not lead to lower rates of violence. In fact, several recent mass shootings occurred in places where armed police officers – who have much more training than an armed history teacher -- were on duty.
- The impacts of arming teachers will most likely fall on already-marginalized students
Black students and students with disabilities are much more likely to receive all manner of discipline at school than their white and/or non-disabled classmates. Nationally, students of color and students with disabilities are up to two times more likely to be referred to police and arrested in schools.
- We should invest in more teachers and mental health providers in our schools rather than wasting resources on solutions that do not work.
Instead of spending scarce resources on armed school personnel, we need to invest in preventing school violence. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 1.6 million children attend public schools that have police officers but no counselors, and three of the five largest school districts in the country hire more security officers than counselors. It is unacceptable to propose spending money on firearms and additional armed personnel in schools while refusing to invest in resources that will actually make kids safer.
Youth are demanding safer learning environments. Why would we respond to their call to action with policies that will undermine trust in educators, fail to make our kids safer, and criminalize them? We must reject calls to arm schoolteachers and instead do the more meaningful work of creating supportive spaces. Our kids deserve it.