In recent years, school safety has become one of the most pressing issues among education leaders who are responsible for creating a threat-free environment for their students and staff. From metal detectors to artificially intelligent weapon scanners, districts are doubling down on crisis prevention efforts. That could mean equipping teachers with a firearm in many states, but current policies and research suggest this is an unlikely solution.
In 2023 alone, there have been 184 incidents of a firearm being used on school grounds—that’s already more than half of the overall number of cases for the entirety of 2022, according to the K-12 School Shooting Database. Given this unprecedented rise in gun violence in America’s schools, leaders are taking steps to significantly bolster their schools’ physical security, although experts would tell you the No. 1 best response is to perfect training staff to respond to such incidents based on best practices.
Last week in Tennessee, Gov. Bill Lee announced nearly $200 million in grant funding to improve the state’s school security. The funding will help schools to place a full-time, armed school resource officer at every public school while enhancing their physical security.
“Nothing is more important than making sure that Tennessee students and teachers return home from school safely each day,” said Gov. Lee, according to Tullahoma News.
A similar move was made in Texas last month to require an armed person at every school as the Uvalde school shooting’s impact still lingers. “It’s time to act,” said Rep. Ken King, R-Canadian, before House Bill 3 was voted on, The Texas Tribune reports. “We need to prevent the next Uvalde.”
But when it comes to carrying a firearm, teachers are not as supportive, despite the fact that the majority of states have laws allowing it. According to the latest American Educators Panels survey by the RAND Corporation, 54% of teachers believe armed teachers would make schools less safe, while a mere 20% believe it would improve school security.
While the evidence suggests that armed teachers are an unlikely solution to districts’ school security woes, where is it technically allowed? Last week, 24/7 Wall St., a financial news and opinion company, issued a special report outlining the 33 states that allow teachers to carry using data from the Giffords Law Center, an advocacy and research organization that promotes gun control.
Here’s a look at the 33 states that let teachers carry guns (Note: In some states, permission may vary by district):
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- South Carolina
- South Dakota