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.