Educators Say ‘No Way’ to Trump’s Suggestion of Arming Teachers

By Madeline Will — February 22, 2018 5 min read
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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!”

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.”

See also: In Wake of Parkland Shooting, Proposals for Arming Teachers Likely to Resurface

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.

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.

In fact, many teachers pledged to quit rather than be armed or work with armed educators.

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.

See also: Educators Join New Fight to Block Guns in Schools

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.