This weekend hundreds of teachers across the country will be getting training to carry concealed handguns at school. July 20th is National Train a Teacher Day with free training being offered for teachers by 239 instructors in 42 states.
The training is being offered even in states that don’t yet allow teachers to carry at school. "Even if folks aren't allowed to have guns on campus, maybe they’ll have the knowledge to encourage change,” National Train a Teacher Day co-administrator Klint Macro told Treasure Coast Newspaper in Florida.
Other programs such as FASTER are also offering free firearms training to teachers across the country.
Police are important, but even stationing an officer at the right part of a school at the right time, they face a tough job in stopping mass public shootings. Mass public shooters are most likely to target the officer first. We’ve seen this time and again at malls, nightclubs and schools.
Others hope that background checks on the private transfer of guns will keep criminals from getting them. But even perfectly enforcing such a law wouldn’t have prevented one mass public shooting this century. Similarly, military-style “assault weapons” bans make no sense, as hunting rifles fire the same bullets with the same rapidity, and, anyway, most mass public shootings involve handguns.
But what is the backup plan when these other options fail?
Currently, 20 states allow teachers to carry guns under a variety of rules on school property, so we don’t need to guess what happens when teachers carry. Some states have had these rules for decades.
The Crime Prevention Research Center has released a new report examining every school shooting in the United States from 2000 through 2018.
There were 306 documented cases of gunshots on school property, 48 of which were suicides. Not counting suicides, 193 people died and 267 were injured in these incidents. Four cases were instances of accidental gunshots by police officers.
The rate of school shootings and the number of people killed by them has increased significantly since 2000. The annual death rate from 2009-2018 was twice that of 2001-2008 (even when one excludes suicides). This increase has occurred exclusively among schools that don’t allow concealed carry for teachers and staff. Indeed, with the exception of suicides or gang violence outside of school hours, no school that allows teachers to carry has experienced a death or injury from a shooting.
Utah, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and parts of Oregon allowed all permitted teachers and staff to carry without any additional training requirements. Other states left it to the discretion of local superintendents or school boards. As of December 2018, teachers carried handguns in more than 30 percent of Texas school districts. And in September 2018, Ohio teachers were carrying in over 200 school districts.
According to Clark Aposhian, a senior member of Utah’s Concealed Firearm Review Board, roughly 5 percent of Utah teachers carry permitted, concealed handguns at school. Aposhian estimates that support staff — janitors, librarians, secretaries, cafeteria staff, etc. — carry at a higher rate, between 10 and 12 percent.
After looking at all of the school shootings in the U.S. from 2000 to 2018, the Crime Prevention Research Center, of which I am the president, found two points.
-Commonly mentioned fears don’t occur. No student has ever gotten ahold of a teacher’s gun, nor has a teacher legally carrying a gun ever accidentally shot someone.
-Outside of suicides or gang violence in the wee hours of the morning when schools aren’t in session, not one person has been wounded or killed from a shooting when armed teachers are around.
This research is pretty simple. It doesn’t involve complicated statistics. It simply looks at all the schools that have teachers carrying and points out that gun control advocates fears haven’t materialized.
No student has ever taken a teacher’s gun. In fact, the only accidental discharge occurred outside of school hours and resulted in minor injuries for the teacher in possession of the handgun.
Moreover, school insurance premiums haven’t risen as a result of allowing teachers to carry.
“From what I’ve seen in Utah, [school insurance] rates have not gone up because of guns being allowed,” says Curt Oda, former president of the Utah Association of Independent Insurance Agents. Nor has a survey of six other states shown any increase in insurance costs.
Police are essential, but they can't be everywhere at once. Even if an officer is stationed at a school, shooters are most likely to target him first. We’ve seen this time and again at malls, nightclubs, and schools. By contrast, concealed carry means would-be shooters won't know who is armed. Even if they take an officer by surprise, they must consider they are revealing their position to someone else who has the potential to stop them.
Gun control groups paint a frightening picture of what might go wrong if teachers carry concealed firearms, but that fear loses credibility in light of the overwhelming success of concealed carry at schools. Armed teachers deter attackers. It is past time for us to pass common-sense gun laws that work.
John Lott is the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and the author most recently of “The War on Guns.”