The share of parents who want to arm teachers in public schools has jumped by seven points to 43 percent, as fears of more Uvalde-style carnage hang over the start of a new academic year, researchers say.
Pollsters at PDK International, an education group, found that the number of parents seeking to arm teachers in schools increased by seven points since the last time they were asked in 2018.
School safety tops the list of parents’ concerns as children go back to classrooms this month, still wary of the May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 schoolchildren and two teachers dead.
Former president Donald Trump and other Republicans, including Senator Ted Cruz and Texas attorney general Ken Paxton, have voiced support for arming teachers and boosting school security, but the issue remains divisive.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), said that, despite the survey, the people ‘in classrooms every day — teachers, school staff and students — don’t want more guns in schools’.
For gun control campaigners, school marshals and teacher-arming schemes are steps in the wrong direction in a country that already has among the world’s highest rates of gun ownership and gun deaths.
A school principal undergoes firearms training near Golden, Colorado. The number of parents who want to arm teachers in public schools has jumped by seven points to 43 percent since 2018, after a series of deadly mass school shootings
Of the 1,008 adults surveyed by PDK in June, 45 percent backed plans to arm teachers. Views fell along party lines, with 72 percent of Republicans favoring gun-toting teachers, while only 24 percent of Democrats felt the same way.
Although parents have swung towards support for armed teachers, other ways to secure schools have broader backing, including armed police, metal detectors, and mental health screening of students, the survey says.
Schools across the U.S. are stepping up security at the start of a new academic year, months after high school dropout Salvador Ramos, 18, bought two rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammunition and carried out the bloodbath in Uvalde.
Georgia’s second-largest school district, Cobb County, last month approved rules to let staff who are not certified police officers carry guns. The move aimed to make up for a shortage of trained cops in the area and did not allow for armed teachers.
Jordan High School in Columbus, Georgia, will on Monday begin barring staff, students, and visitors from bringing backpacks on to the school’s campus, after a firearm was found in a student’s bag at the start of the school year.
Ohio’s politicians in June drastically reduced to 24 the number of hours of training teachers and other staff needed to carry guns in schools, over opposition from teachers’ unions and the state’s main police officer union.
School teachers and administrators fire their guns at a firearms course in Colorado. Nearly half of American adults now say arming teachers is a good idea — significantly less than those who back armed police and metal detectors in schools
Texas has pioneered the deployment of armed teachers in schools through its School Marshal Program since 2013, a response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, the previous year.
Salvador Ramos, 18, bought two rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammunition before carrying out the Uvalde bloodbath.
The scheme allows teachers and administrators to carry handguns after an 80-hour training at academies overseen by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement. It is opposed the Texas State Teachers Association.
Critics say such schemes do little or nothing to bolster school safety — they highlight how dozens of armed law enforcement officials waited more than an hour before confronting and killing Ramos, the gunman in Uvalde.
Gun advocates counter with a ‘good guy with a gun’ argument, often pointing to Elisjsha Dicken, 22, a lawful gun owner who last month shot dead a gunman on a killing spree in a shopping mall in Greenwood, Indiana, likely preventing a higher death toll.
The threat of shootings and pressures to carry guns are among the many other issues facing public school teachers — low pay, stress and burnout — and may help explain their 280,000 drop in numbers since before the pandemic.
‘Beyond low pay and constant attacks from politicians, teachers are having to deal with rising gun violence,’ San Francisco doctor and podcaster Shoshana Ungerleider said on social media on Friday. ‘No wonder they’re leaving.’
Dozens of armed law enforcement officials were slammed for waiting more than an hour before confronting and killing Salvador Ramos, the Uvalde gunman, as he carried out his killing spree