Three surveys in the last week—by Gallup, the National Education Association, and Teach Plus—all came to the same conclusion: Most teachers do not want to be armed.
According to an online Gallup Panel survey of about 500 U.S. teachers, for example, about 70 percent of respondents do not think they or other school staff members should have guns in school, with nearly 60 percent saying that guns would make schools less safe. Gallup is the only nationally representative survey of the three polls released this week.
President Donald Trump has called for arming a fifth of the nation’s teachers, including those who are military veterans or otherwise trained with firearms, as well as giving bonuses to educators who agree to carry. If teachers are armed, Trump said, they could stop a school shooting before students are killed.
While there is no evidence to suggest that 20 percent of teachers—up to 760,000 people—are veterans or have gun training, Gallup did find that 18 percent of teachers said they would apply for special training to wield a gun at school. Of those, two-thirds are “very confident” they would be able to effectively handle a gun in a live shooting situation.
One-quarter of surveyed teachers said they currently own a gun. That group was four times more likely to be willing to be trained to carry a gun in school, Gallup found.
Still, as the latest surveys reflect, the idea has garnered widespread skepticism among educators.
The Gallup survey found that 73 percent of teachers do not want special training to be armed in school, compared to 42 percent of Americans who do favor special training to arm teachers and school staff. Almost 30 percent of teachers think that arming teachers would be very or somewhat effective in limiting the number of victims in a school shooting.
These findings were echoed in two other surveys this week. Teach Plus, a national advocacy group for teacher leadership, polled 1,233 teachers from 38 states and the District of Columbia. Nearly 80 percent said they strongly oppose Trump’s proposal to arm teachers in school. About 13 percent said they strongly or somewhat support the idea.
“We are not trained officers, we are not military members,” one respondent said. “We are teachers, mentors, and caregivers. Most school shootings are carried out by students. Please do not ask a teacher to shoot and kill a student.”
Instead, the vast majority of teachers polled by Teach Plus said they believe that background checks for purchasing weapons should be strengthened, with slightly fewer (80 percent) saying assault rifles should be banned. Teachers also said they wanted Congress to enact new policies or provide additional funding to ensure school safety.
This week, the House of Representatives passed the STOP School Violence Act, which would train teachers and other school staff in violence prevention and authorize $50 million annually for the program. The bill does not allow any of the grant funds to be used to train or provide school staff with firearms.
The National Education Association also surveyed 1,000 of its members, finding that 82 percent of respondents said they would not carry a gun to school even if they had firearms training and were allowed to do so.
“Our teachers need more books, art and music programs, nurses and school counselors; they do not need more guns in their classrooms,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García in a statement.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.