Teacher’s got a gun

Arming educators is a reality in some places and under serious consideration in others, reports Education Week.

 In Utah, school employees have been able to carry concealed weapons onto campus for about a decade—without telling a soul—and at least four Texas school districts are known to have granted select employees permission to take concealed weapons to school.

A rural Texas district, Southland is 15 miles from the nearest law-enforcement agencies, says Superintendent Toby Miller. Deciding “we are the first responders,”  Southland is training some of its employees to carry guns.

The armed employees, a small subset of the district’s 32-member staff, went through mental-health screenings and trained for their concealed-weapons licenses together. The training will be ongoing, he said, as long as Southland employees carry weapons. And the guns fire so-called frangible ammunition, which breaks into small pieces on contact, preventing ricochet.

Armed staffers must carry their weapon at all times in a concealed holster: Guns cannot be carried in a purse or locked in a desk.

Michael S. Dorn, who runs the nonprofit Safe Havens International, worries about a new attitude among school employees since the Newtown shootings: “Now, I’m supposed to die” to defend students.

Dorn, a former school police chief, thinks too many teachers and administrators have switched to attack mode. “We’re seeing so many [school employees] saying they would attack” someone, he said, “whether it’s two parents coming into the office arguing over a custody issue or people pulling a handgun but not actually shooting anybody.”

A few weeks ago, a school principal told me she’s been thinking about whether she’d give her life to protect her students from a gunman as the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary did. Another woman said. “I’d want a gun.”

Other schools are taking a different tack: Marietta, Georgia public schools are installing “panic buttons” that call 911.  At an Alabama school, teachers and staff wear panic buttons around their necks that trigger a school lockdown.

About Joanne


  1. It’s unseemly for adults to whine that life might at some sudden turn expect everything from them. How did they get to be adults without having realized that’s precisely the way life is. What are they doing teaching our children?

    This is NOT Sparta.

  2. Columbine and Newtown were places that suddenly became very dangerous. The world is dangerous.

    Sparta represents one response to a dangerous world. Some of the “educators” in this article represent a different response.

    Schools are not the only places where a person might suddenly find that saving a child–or doing the right thing in general–might put one’s life at risk. Some people at both Columbine and at Newtown did respond with nobility and courage.

    • Then I’m not sure what you’re objection is. You seem to be saying that it is more noble to sacrifice oneself and die unarmed protecting the children than to be trained and ready to meet force with force.

    • Columbine had an armed police officer on campus and a second armed security guard.

      • The School Resource Officer was outside on the opposite side of campus and was not told that it was a shooter situation when a custodian called him… just that there was an emergency. Also, when he reached the seen and returned fire with one of the shooters, he was not wearing his prescription eyeglasses (incompetence due to vanity). First responders were on the scene while the shootings continued, but instead of confronting the shooters, they focused on evacuating students, costing more lives. Officers now are trained to actively confront shooters, and this has limited (not eliminated) the death toll in multiple shootings since.

  3. I don’t think the U.S. turns into Sparta by removing prohibitions against teachers possessing the means to defend themselves. Rather the opposite, actually.

    Spartan citizens, if that term applied, were property of the state and had no choice about whether to be armed or not. That’s the polar opposite of this proposal since teachers aren’t compelled to take up arms. The teachers who prefer to remain unarmed, for whatever reason, are free to do so and are free of the risks that attend possession of arms.

  4. I propose a reasonable compromise: let teachers carry large, very sharp knives. Either that or crossbows.

  5. Mike in Texas says:

    To paraphrase Hawkeye Pierce:

    I will carry on and carry a tune, but I won’t carry a gun.

    • To quote Charles M. Schultz:

      “No problem is so big or so complicated that it can’t be run away from!”

    • That’s an odd quote to throw into the mix, but I’ll go with it. Hawkeye Pierce could say such a thing because a whole lot of young men with a whole lot of fire power were defending his perimeter. Is that your solution, then?

      • Mike in Texas says:

        Norm, I teach 9 year olds, almost exclusively poor. One message I DON’T want to send to them is that a gun will solve your problems.

        And speaking of guns, yes I own one, a Smith and Wesson 9mm that I’m not that good of a shot with. I’m much better with a .45 but that was a little too pricey.

        I would just never dream of bringing it to school.

        • I can respect that, Mike. (I don’t own a gun at all, though I’ve got an pistol and an M16 with my name on them at the State Armory. I’ve been thinking about buying one before some new gun laws prevent me–a guy with a history of depression and some PTSD–from owning one at all.)

          But do you not think there is some small percentage of your students (or your students’ circle of associates off campus) that do dream of bringing a gun to school? Your gun then would help solve a very specific problem.

          • Mike in Texas says:

            No I honestly don’t. I think in an emergency my job is to hide the students away from the attacker(s) behind locked doors. That would be a better use of my time.

        • Mike, its not like the teachers and staff are walking around with a pistol hanging off their hips… the weapons are concealed. Students need not know that any staff member is carrying. Most of the schools are being very selective of who gets to carry…meaning that if any teacher likes you doesn’t want to carry, you won’t have to.

  6. Richard Aubrey says:

    Mike in Texas.
    A prof did that at UVa. Got a lot of cred for being a hero. He got killed as did some of his students. Fortunately, nobody on staff, and no eligible students were armed or somebody might have been hurt.

    • Richard Aubrey says:

      Crap. What is it with this thing?
      Anyway, to continue, arming the reluctant isn’t the issue and those who say it is are either lying or too gullible to be allowed out of the house.
      The issue is to allow those legally allowed to carry (background check, certified training) elsewhere to carry in school.
      Two reports, 18-4 and 14-2. Not sure which is more acccurate, but the larger number refers to the dead in mass shootings ended by the arrival–eventually–of the cops and the smaller the number of dead when an armed citizen was on scene.
      At Newtown, Lanza had a quarter of an hour, which is to say he could have fired off about as much ammo as he could carry, even with ten-round mags and taking his time. The UVa guy had, iirc, nearly half an hour. As at Newtown, doors can be blown open. One of the Hollywood effects which has a real-world analog.

      • Mike in Texas says:


        I have no training in firearms, and my district doesn’t have the money to pay for it. I would probably have little chance of hitting an attacker at 20-25 feet, just b/c I’m a poor shot with my pistol. Meanwhile the 21 children entrusted to me have no adult with them.

        • Richard Aubrey says:

          Mike. Your situation is your situation. The question is whether there is somebody trained and armed between your students and the shooter.

          • Mike in Texas says:

            In an ideal world, but two years ago Texas cut billions of dollars from education, and districts laid off teachers. I can’t see them forking over the money for armed guards. I definitely can see the Republican controlled govt. here restoring any of that funding, even though they just lost a court case about it. Where would the money for the armed guards come from?

          • Mike in Texas says:

            That should have said “can’t”

        • Mike, the article hints that one of the problems with arming teachers is having them go “maverick.” I don’t think the vision for arming teachers is to have them chase down an active shooter; that requires intense and repeated training. I agree that deserting your 21 children would be deserting your post. It seems to me that you still lock and barricade your door and follow all protocols, but if a shooter is coming through anyway, you’ve got a fighting chance. I’m not trying to change your mind–again, I respect your stance, and there is wisdom in it. I’m just saying that the other point of view has merit.

          • Mike in Texas says:

            Norm, right next to my door is a fire extinguisher heavy enough to bash someone’s head in, if it ever came to that.

      • lightly seasoned says:

        I am licensed, etc., and I wouldn’t bring my gun to school. I’m even a decent shot. I just know that being a good shot shooting clay pigeons, etc. is a far cry from being in a situation where someone is shooting at me. As for Columbine vs. Newtown — there’s a difference between high schools and elementary schools. Also, protocols for intruders have changed a great deal in the last couple of years. We no longer practice hiding from a shooter. Now we practice knowing the best strategy for what’s happening. If the intruder is outside the door, we go out the window, etc.

        • Richard Aubrey says:

          Lightly. So don’t carry.
          Point is, whether those who are licensed are allowed to carry in school if that is their decision.

        • Richard Aubrey says:

          My wife is a retired HS teacher. Going out the window was not an option due to the structure of the windows in some of the classrooms. Remember the ones where the bottom foot or so was a separate piece which could be slanted in for air circulation? Yeah. Those.
          Before I retired, I worked in a building whose windows did not open at all and were made of tempered glass.
          So sometimes you’ll find yourself in a blind alley.

          • But the question is, how often?

            You can live your life under constant fear of being hit by lighting. And it could happen. But odds are you are at much bigger risk from the things you’re not noticing on the ground as you stare, in fear, at the darkening skies.

          • lightly seasoned says:

            Right. You think about the situation and figure it out ahead of time. Interestingly, all the teachers I know who own firearms, etc. don’t want to bring them into the building.

          • Lightly… are you saying that you and your circle of teachers can speak for every school district in the country? One of the biggest problems with discussions like these today is everyone’s assumption that they define others’ lives by their own.

  7. If the pattern of attention killers continues, most teachers don’t have to be armed. Just a few volunteers, and then let the public know that some are armed. I agree with Mike that he shouldn’t be armed. But the ap’s, custodial staff, those not in the classroom could be, and it would diffuse the problem.

    The attention killers do their homework, and they’ll go elsewhere. Deterrence works!

    • Richard Aubrey says:

      You know, not only staff can carry if the law allows CCW in school. Parents visiting for whatever reason, vendors.
      So we have 18-4, or possibly 14-2. You choose the higher number because…?

  8. Kirk Parker says:

    … people pulling a handgun but not actually shooting anybody.

    A self-correcting problem, if anyone else is armed.

    • Exactly, because its always best to wait and see if they’ll actually fire. From what I understand, police are allowed to shoot someone who pulls a weapon on them but hasn’t fired yet. If they can defend themselves that way, why can’t the average citizen?