States look to arm teachers in aftermath of Uvalde
At least two states are pressing forward with legislation that would allow trained school teachers to carry firearms on public school grounds in the wake of the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
While arming teachers has faced widespread hostility from gun control organizations and national teachers unions such as the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, allowing teachers to carry firearms in schools was among the recommendations made by several school safety commissions formed in the aftermath of school shootings in 2018.
Arming teachers has had mixed results in the past due to varying levels of participation. A 2020 report from the RAND Corporation found that 28 states already permit armed teachers under certain circumstances, while others, including Texas and Florida, have passed laws specifically encouraging the practice.
Now, in the aftermath of Uvalde, the policy has received renewed attention in state capitols as lawmakers look to enact new measures to harden security at schools.
A bill allowing teachers in Ohio to carry firearms is headed to the desk of Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, who has indicated he will sign it.
“My office worked with the General Assembly to remove hundreds of hours of curriculum irrelevant to school safety and to ensure training requirements were specific to a school environment and contained significant scenario-based training,” DeWine said of the bill. “House Bill 99 accomplishes these goals, and I thank the General Assembly for passing this bill to protect Ohio children and teachers.”
Once enacted, the bill will add Ohio to a list of several states that already allow teachers to be armed.
In Louisiana, GOP state Sen. Eddie Lambert likewise proposed legislation that would allow teachers to be armed on school grounds. The bill would require teachers to undergo specialized training before they are permitted to carry a firearm on school property.
“You don’t want anybody who is not fully trained in this situation: This is not for just some Joe Blow,” Lambert said, according to NBC .
The state where the Robb Elementary shooting took place has had a law on the books allowing teachers to sign up as “marshals” and carry firearms on campus since 2013.
But across the Lone Star State, less than 300 teachers statewide have taken part in the program, Politico reported . The state also maintains a so-called guardian program that is less regulated than the registered teacher marshals, but participation in that program is also fairly low.
In the aftermath of the 2018 shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, the state government enacted the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which established the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program to arm teachers and staff on school grounds.
According to the Florida Department of Education, 45 counties currently participate in the program, which provides funding to county sheriff’s offices to train and screen school employees interested in participating in the program. Participants are also provided a stipend.