President Donald Trump suggested a possible solution to preventing the kinds of school shootings that left 17 students and educators dead in Parkland, Fla., last week—arming nearly a quarter of the nation’s teachers.
“If you had one teacher who was adept at firearms, they could very well end the attack very quickly,” Trump said on Wednesday, adding that teachers armed with weapons should be highly trained—possibly former Marines or other armed forces veterans.
Those comments set off a firestorm on social media among educators and the general public. On Thursday morning, Trump clarified his position on Twitter.
“I never said ‘give teachers guns’ like was stated on Fake News @CNN & @NBC,” Trump said in a series of tweets. “What I said was to look at the possibility of giving concealed guns to gun adept teachers with military or special training experience—only the best. 20% of teachers, a lot, would now be able to immediately fire back if a savage sicko came to a school with bad intentions. Highly trained teachers would also serve as a deterrent to the cowards that do this. Far more assets at much less cost than guards. A ‘gun free’ school is a magnet for bad people. ATTACKS WOULD END!”
....History shows that a school shooting lasts, on average, 3 minutes. It takes police & first responders approximately 5 to 8 minutes to get to site of crime. Highly trained, gun adept, teachers/coaches would solve the problem instantly, before police arrive. GREAT DETERRENT!
-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 22, 2018
Later, he proposed bonuses for armed teachers and upped the possible percentage of teachers who might be qualified to carry firarms to 40 percent, according to a pool report.
“You can’t hire enough security guards,” he told reporters. “But you could have concealed [weapons] on the teachers. ... I want my schools protected just like I want my banks protected.”
According to a Washington Post-ABC poll conducted after the Parkland shooting, 42 percent of the 808 adults surveyed said that allowing teachers to carry guns could have deterred the attack—59 percent of Republicans said so. Just over half of parents with school-aged children said the Florida shooting could have been prevented if teachers had firearms.
Still, on Twitter, teachers were outraged. Having a gun in the classroom, many argued, is too dangerous.
Arming teachers is the answer to school shootings? Really? Could there be a more ridiculous response? I can’t even imagine the chaos that would unfold w/ a bunch of armed teachers running around trying to identify & control an armed imposter. We are not cops. This is madness.
-- kyle redford (@kyleredford) February 22, 2018
As teachers, we look at kids to assess potential. Police look at kids to assess threat. Mixing the two would destroy classrooms and kids.
Not to mention, every teacher I’ve ever met who would be tempted to carry a gun at school is exactly the one you don’t want armed.
-- Constantine Singer (@ajaxsinger) February 22, 2018
Many educators said they are already stretched thin with both time and resources and aren’t prepared for the extra responsibility of being trained to fire a weapon.
“Teachers want to be armed with the resources to help their students, not with guns,” tweeted Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers.
Y’all, the list of things I would rather have at school more than a gun is very long and begins with a well functioning copier. Teachers feel free to add to the list...
-- nate bowling (@nate_bowling) February 22, 2018
Teachers have enough stress in the classroom dealing teaching today’s children with diminishing resources. Don’t add the pressure of maintaining gun proficiency to that as well. Add more armed guards, harden school protection to make a harder target. Let teachers teach.
-- Dave Duffy (@DuffySends) February 22, 2018
Educators need to be adept at:
quality resources & ancillary texts
A host of other things. None of which are firearms. //t.co/7W84a94sY5
-- Kelly Wickham Hurst (@mochamomma) February 22, 2018
In fact, many teachers pledged to quit rather than be armed or work with armed educators.
As a teacher, I can say unequivocally that arming teachers is NOT the answer. And speaking for myself, I’ll quit if this happens. School is a place for learning,not more guns.
-- Renee (@twocougs) February 22, 2018
My brother is a high school teacher in LA. He tells me that if teachers are required to carry guns that he and most of the teachers he knows will resign immediately. We teachers are not trained for combat and we will NOT stand for any idiotic measure for arming teachers.
-- Chris (@goingglocal) February 22, 2018
Of course, there are some educators who support the idea of being armed—especially if the ones armed receive firearms training and have a military background.
As a 24 yr retired Navy Chief and a high school algebra teacher for the last 16 years, I totally support teachers like myself being armed to help protect the students.
-- tom q (@frontman28) February 22, 2018
It’s important to note that this idea is a long way from becoming a nationwide reality. While districts in at least 15 states can permit authorized adults to carry concealed, loaded guns on school grounds, proposals to arm teachers typically struggle to gain traction both in state legislatures and school boards.
“The vast majority of schools superintendents and boards don’t even blink before saying, ‘Thanks but no thanks,’” school safety consultant Kenneth Trump told Politico. “We know that by and large there’s mass opposition to this in the education community.”
The New York Times recently featured a former assistant high school principal who survived a school shooting after chasing and detaining the suspect—with his gun that he had in his truck on the premises. He said even after that experience, he doesn’t support arming teachers.
“Teachers have to teach, and that’s what they should be doing,” said Joel Myrick of Mississippi. “It doesn’t matter what a pistolero you are, or think you are. You don’t need to be in school in charge of protecting children.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.