Anti-Gunners Are Losing the Argument About Armed Teachers

Image by WOKANDAPIX from Pixabay

Gun control activists pitched a fit in the Tennessee capitol on Tuesday when the state Senate approved a measure that would allow public school teachers and staff to lawfully carry concealed on campus after first getting approval from local officials and undergoing additional training. According to reporters on hand, several hundred activists "hissed" at lawmakers who were voting on the measure before they were removed from the Senate chambers ahead of the 26-5 vote in favor of the bill. 

The gun control lobby has become increasingly strident in their opposition to using armed school staff as a first (or last) line of defense for students in the case of an active shooter on campus. Everytown for Gun Safety is even objecting to the Ohio legislature's decision to purchase shoot houses for use in training school staff through the FASTER program, with one anti-gunner even claiming that the new training opportunities are all about turning educators into LARPers. 

“Oh sure, let’s take teacher Sally and teacher Joe, with guns in hand, and put them in a special forces training simulation. Putting guns into these classrooms does not help,” said Lora Greene, a rural chapter lead with the Ohio chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Why don’t we put money into things that actually make our schools and kids and teachers safer, instead of paying tens of thousands of dollars to force teachers to cosplay war.”

“Ohio’s attempt to purchase and utilize these tactical, military-style ‘shoot houses’ is a new – and asinine – approach to bringing more guns into schools,” said Monisha Henley, senior vice president of government affairs at Everytown for Gun Safety. “Instead of investing in gun violence prevention measures to keep our kids safe, Ohio lawmakers want to spend taxpayer dollars to fund ‘shoot houses.’ This is not how we prevent gun violence, this is not how we invest in safer communities.”

No one is "forcing" educators to cosplay war or to carry a firearm in school. No one. There's not a single state that allows for armed school staff that requires any school staffer to carry a gun on the job. Instead, they rely on volunteers who are willing to take on that responsibility, and based on the conversations I've had with the FASTER folks in both Ohio and Colorado, in most cases the issue is that school districts have too many volunteers to put through training at one time. 

You'd think a group that bills itself as supporters of "gun safety" would be all in favor of providing educators who are carrying with additional training opportunities, but you have to keep in mind that for Everytown and their ilk, "gun safety" is defined as "don't own, carry, or even think about a gun." There's no way that they'd ever accept the idea of armed school staff, no matter how much or how little training is involved. 

But while they keep objecting, states keep adopting provisions like the one approved by the Tennessee Senate. The Iowa House has approved language that would empower districts to purchase firearms for armed school staff, while Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed a bill last month that will provide training for educators who are already carrying on the clock. 

Just this week Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, allowed a bill establishing a "School Guardian" program to take effect, though he declined to sign the legislation

Senate Bill 2 is a Republican-backed measure that built upon a bipartisan school safety law that was passed in 2019 after a shooting at Marshall County High School. Sponsored by Sen. Max Wise, of Campbellsville, this year’s legislation establishes the school “guardians” program while strengthening support for mental health resources. 

Beshear, a Democrat who recently won reelection in Kentucky, signed the 2019 law. He also signed a 2022 law requiring a school resource officer (SRO), a type of sworn law enforcement officer, on each campus in Kentucky. 

However, school districts have struggled to meet that requirement. Wise said while introducing his legislation this session that about 600 school campuses do not have SROs. School districts may begin using “guardians” during the 2025-26 school year. School districts may also choose to have “guardians” in schools as unpaid volunteers instead of employees. 

SB 2 had no additional funding tied to it when it was filed, but the legislature appropriated money for SROs in its budget bill —  $16.5 million in the first fiscal year and then $18 million the following year. House Bill 6,  the executive branch budget bill, says the Kentucky Department of Education would reimburse school districts up to $20,000 for each school that employs a full-time, on-site SRO. 

“We’ve learned so much about the power of additional adults with very specific training who can help keep our schools safe,” Wise said in a statement after the bill passed out of the Senate. “SB 2 complements our SROs with another set of eyes on campus or may help provide additional coverage on a school with multiple campuses.”  

The Kentucky bill doesn't actually allow for teachers or staff to carry on campus, but the folks at Everytown still opposed the bill, with one activist complaining that having school resource officers or guardians present is a "dangerous and misguided idea."  

“We’re disappointed that our lawmakers spent this legislative session working overtime to pass this bill rather than actually passing preventative gun safety measures that would keep our children safe in school,” [Kirby] Van Lierop said. “But we won’t be deterred — we’ll continue to fight for common sense policies that will keep guns out of our schools and out of the hands of those who could be a danger to themselves and others. That’s what will really help keep our children safe.” 

They're fighting for policies that will keep guns out of schools, all right. But they're also fighting to keep guns out of churches, restaurants, public transportation, and virtually every other publicly accessible space. Heck, they're trying to keep us from using guns for self-defense in our own homes. That's what the gun control movement is all about; not fighting against a "guns everywhere", but fighting for a "guns nowhere" ideology that simply cannot coexist with our Second Amendment rights... or our desire to keep our kids safe from harm when they're at school. 

Thankfully, the anti's are losing this argument. States are rejecting their hoplophobic stance and are instead taking the right steps to add that additional layer of security in school districts that want to deploy a strategy of armed school staff or guardians. Will that prevent every potential school shooting? Of course not. But it at least gives districts (and educators) the opportunity to better protect the students in their care by providing an immediate armed response to a threat on campus, which is a far better way of addressing school safety than relying on a "Guns Not Allowed" sign to keep our kids protected in the classroom.