As schools around the nation look for ways to protect their students, the debate surrounding the arming of teachers resurfaces consistently. A recent survey conducted by the RAND Corporation found that while one in five teachers would be interested in bringing a gun to school, the majority do not believe it would make students any safer.
The survey, conducted among elementary and secondary school teachers across the country, revealed that 54% of teachers believe that introducing firearms to schools would make them less safe. This sentiment was consistent across varying populations, though white teachers held moderately more positive views than black teachers. A significant portion of male teachers in rural areas reported they would carry a firearm into the classroom if allowed, bringing the estimated total to 550,000 of the 3 million elementary and secondary school teachers in the United States.
Instead of discussing shootings, the conversation shifted towards bullying, with half of the teachers surveyed considering it the primary safety concern. Drug use and fights between students were further worries held by the survey group. Secondary school teachers ranked self-harm as one of their top concerns, while primary school teachers focused more on violence against teachers.
Despite the interest in bringing firearms to the classroom, approximately half of the teachers surveyed considered that the physical security measures already implemented, such as locks, badges, cameras and security personnel, actively contribute to a safer climate. Further, 70% of school district leaders reported in fall 2022 that they had increased their investments in safety measures citing the May 2022 shooting at a Uvalde, Texas school as inspiration for their action.
These results leave educators, school administrators, and parents alike with a difficult decision: do we arm the teachers, or take further steps to secure our schools? While arming teachers offers a possible solution, the results of the RAND Corporation survey indicate that the majority of teachers remain unconvinced their decision would make schools any safer, and instead leaves educators divided and schools less secure than ever.