An impressive 32 states allow teachers and staff to effectively protect children by carrying a firearm on campus. While it is unfortunate that not all 50 states permit this form of defense against active school shooter situations, public awareness and advocacy could continue to grow that number. The 5th annual National Train a Teacher Day is June 18, and the mission is to protect kids by training, educating and empowering teachers, staff and administrators with the hopes of influencing legislators and school boards into changing their policies.
How Can Teachers Safely Protect Children?
In 1999, two students walked into a high school in Littleton, Colorado, and murdered 12 students and one teacher. Ten people, including both students and teachers, were already killed and/or injured in the 3 minutes it took for the school resource officer to be alerted of the situation. In 2012, a 20-year-old walked into an elementary school in Connecticut and subsequently shot and killed 20 children and six adults. All the victims were killed and/or injured within 5 minutes. Approximately 1 minute after that shooter turned the gun on himself, police arrived on scene. In 2018, one individual walked into a Florida high school, shooting and killing 17 people and injuring others. All the victims were shot in just under 4 minutes.
These unfortunate tragedies had one thing in common: There were no teachers or school staff equipped to defend themselves and their students against an active shooter.
A 2014 study conducted by Eric Dietz, a Purdue professor and homeland security expert, found that “having either an armed guard or armed staff on school grounds can reduce the number of casualties in a mass shooting situation by up to 70 percent by, at the very least, slowing an attacker.” Proper training — including safe storage, active shooter scenarios and target practice — could arm teachers with the proper knowledge needed during emergency situations.
“Time is your ally,” Dietz stated. With an uptick of school shootings, state and local governments have become proactive to curtail these atrocities by arming and training their teachers and staff for such emergencies.
Which States Allow Armed Teachers?
There are currently 32 states that may allow teachers or other school personnel to carry a firearm with certain restrictions. These states include:
Alabama — Alabama’s law about guns in schools prohibits carrying firearms “knowingly with intent to do bodily harm.” People with pistol permits are exempt from this prohibition. § 13A-11-72
Alaska — with permission from the school § 11.61.210(a)(7)
Arizona — when used in a program approved by the school § 13-3102(I)(2)
Arkansas — private and religious schools only, and with permission § 5-73-119(e)(11)
Colorado — in certain circumstances and with permission from the school § 18-12-105.5
Connecticut — with permission from the school § 53a-217b(b)
Delaware — with permission from the school
Note that there does not appear to be a restriction on openly carrying a firearm in a Safe School and Recreation Zone for adults, though federal law applies. 11, § 1457(a)-(c)
Florida — As part of the School Guardian Program § 1006.12
Georgia — with permission from the school § 16-11-127.1(6)
Idaho — with permission from the school district § 18-3302D(4)(g)
Indiana — with permission from the school board § 35-47-9-1
Iowa — with permission from the school § 724.4B(2)
Kansas — specifically authorized in writing by the superintendent of any unified school district or the chief administrator of any accredited nonpublic school § 21-6301(a)(11); (j)(2)
Kentucky — with permission from the school § 527.070(3)(f)
Massachusetts — with permission from the school ch. 269, § 10(j)
Michigan — with permission from the school § 750.237a(5)(e)
Minnesota — with permission from the school § 609.66 Subd.1d(f)(8)
Missouri — with permission from the school or the district §§ 571.030.1(10); 571.030.4
Montana — with permission from the school district § 45-8-361(3)
Nevada — with permission from the school § 202.265(3)
New Hampshire — Federal law restricts carry on campus by people who do not have concealed carry permits or licenses. New Hampshire only bans pupils from possessing a firearm in a safe school zone. §§ 193-D:3; 193-D:1
New Jersey — with permission from the school § 2C:39-5(e)(1)
Ohio — with permission from the school 2923.122(D)(1)(a)
Oklahoma — with permission from the school, and only private schools
Oklahoma allows carry by any school personnel with security guard licenses who have been designated by the board of education to carry guns. 21 Okl. St. § 1280.1
Oregon — with a concealed carry license §§ 166.370(1),(3)(g)
South Carolina — with permission from the school § 16-23-420
South Dakota — if the person is a school sentinel § 13-64-1
Tennessee — only in private schools and with permission from the school
Tennessee allows schools in “distressed rural counties” to adopt a policy that authorizes certain staff members to carry concealed firearms, if they fulfill certain training and licensing requirements. § 39-17-1309(e)(6), § 39-17-1309, §49-6-816
Texas — if the person is a designated school marshal § 37.0811
Utah — with a concealed carry permit § 76-10-505.5(4)(a)
Vermont — with permission from the school 13, § 4004(c)
Wyoming — with permission from the school district and a valid concealed carry permit § 21-3-132
Armed Teachers Can Save Lives
While some teachers and staff may not be comfortable possessing a firearm, others seek to afford the responsibility in the protection of their students. With proper training, armed teachers and staff are less vulnerable to active shooters, have more control of the situation, and have the potential to respond quickly should an emergency arise. As shown in previous school shooting tragedies, it can take several minutes for law enforcement to arrive on scene and devise a plan to stop the threat. Those minutes can be crucial in drastically reducing the number of victims in an active shooter event and potentially stopping the perpetrator.
Furthermore, there are numerous accounts of armed staff helping to block or stop school shootings, such as the Pearl, Mississippi, shooting that involved an assistant principal retrieving a handgun and subduing the shooter. Another example would be the Sullivan Central High School incident in which a gunman ended up in a standoff with the school resource officer. The only shots fired that day were from law enforcement, and with the quick actions of these brave, responsibly armed Americans, many lives were saved.
Will Your State Be Next?
Over half of U.S. states have laws allowing teachers, administrators and staff to carry firearms for self-defense purposes in some form or another. Will your state be next? Write your legislators advocating for it and show your support by writing opinion pieces for your local paper. We all can play a part. Maybe next year your state will make the list. Also, arm yourself with knowledge if gun laws change in your state. Ignorance is never an excuse.
What questions do you have about state gun laws? Let us know how we can help in the comments below!