When it comes to making schools safer, arming teachers doesn’t appear to be the answer many of us are willing to embrace.
Some elected officials, including President Trump, have suggested arming trained teachers or school administrators after 17 people were slain in a school shooting in Florida last month. But the idea was not popular among 250 residents of Reporter Newspapers communities who responded to our latest 1Q.com survey. Conducted via cellphone, the survey is not scientific.
When asked what safety improvements should be made at our neighborhood schools from a list of six suggestions ranging from more police to better sidewalks, only 4 percent of the respondents chose to back the idea of issuing firearms to trained teachers or administrators. Just as many respondents thought no action was needed because their schools already are safe.
And when survey participants were asked directly whether some properly trained teachers or administrators should be issued firearms, their responses ran about two to one against the idea.
The largest group — 36 percent of the respondents — backed a proposal to provide more counseling and psychological screening for students. Suggestions to place more police officers and metal detectors in schools each drew support from 18 percent of the respondents.
“I believe that teachers should not be issued firearms for a couple of reasons —one reason being that many teachers have already come out saying that they do not want to be held responsible for their students’ lives in such a way,” a 14-year-old Sandy Springs girl wrote when responding to the survey. “I, as a student, would not feel any safer knowing that all my teachers have guns. In fact it would make me feel less secure and more anxious and on edge. The answer is gun law reform plain and simple.”
And a 14-year-old Sandy Springs boy argued that guns in the classroom actually would make schools less safe. “That would actually give students a greater chance at being injured or killed,” he wrote, choosing an option of installing more metal detectors at school entrances.
But others saw arming trained teachers as a direct way to curb school shootings. “They may be the only defense the kids have,” wrote a 55-year-old Sandy Springs man.
Others likened the situation to providing security on airplanes. “I believe there should be some highly trained, undercover people in the school that have the ability to carry [a firearm],” a 25-year-old Atlanta man wrote, “like a flight marshal that can take over if a situation arises.”
Among respondents who opposed arming teachers, some seemed horrified simply by the idea itself, while others raised practical objections. “It will not allow the police to enter as quickly knowing there are multiple people with guns,” a 37-year-old Atlanta man responded.
Another Atlanta man argued that shootouts in schools could end up hurting more people. “I believe we should strive to eliminate the number of guns in an educational environment,” the 27-year-old man wrote. “While trained first responders can certainly address violence when it appears, this also introduces another potential cost: injuries and death as a result of a gun battle between an educator/staff member and an armed intruder.”
Here’s what some other respondents had to say about whether trained teachers or administrators should carry guns in schools:
“In an emergency, teachers should be with their students, not out hunting for the shooter. Firearms training at a gun range cannot simulate a real-world scenario of shooting at people in a panic situation. In a classroom it is likely a firearm will do more harm than good.”
–a 63-year-old Sandy Springs man
“Police will never be able to respond in time to stop a shooting. Schools are frequently a target because the shooter assumes no one is armed. If someone at the school is trained and able to use a firearm it will be much more effective than the police responding after the fact ever could be.”
–a 33-year-old DeKalb County man
“There is no place for firearms in schools, aside from in the highly trained hands of law enforcement.”
–a 25-year-old Brookhaven woman
“It would deter school shootings, just like air marshals on planes.”
–a 55-year-old Sandy Springs man
1Q is an Atlanta-based start-up that sends questions and surveys to a cellphone via app or text messages. Respondents are paid 50 cents per answer, through PayPal, for sharing their opinions. Payments may also be donated directly to charity. Sign up to be included in our local community polls at 1Q.com/reporter or by texting “REPORTER” to 86312.