Sunday, January 27, 2013

Guns in Schools

Recently, I conducted a survey of teachers, asking them about their attitudes toward guns at school--specifically teachers carrying guns.  Herewith, the press release I sent, along with the results.

Survey of Washington Teachers Finds Disinterest in Guns at School
A survey of Washington K-12 teachers has found a general disinterest in having guns in school.  
Following on the recent tragedy in Newtown, Washington State Representative Liz Pike indicated her intention to offer legislation allowing adults to carry licensed firearms at school.  Steilacoom teacher Andrew Milton surveyed teachers and staff across Washington to gain insight into the perceptions and preferences of the adults who work in schools.
The 7-question survey went out to over 400 randomly selected staff in more than 50 districts—big and small, urban and rural—across the state.  The 181 respondents came from over 40 districts.
73 % of respondents indicated that they do not own a gun, personally, while 27 % said they do.  Not surprisingly, the two groups responded differently to the idea of guns in school.  Both groups essentially agreed that they feel safe in school (Gun owners, 73 % ; non-owners, 82 %), but gun owners thought adults with guns would make schools safer (53 %) while non-owners significantly disagreed (only 9 % thought guns would make schools safer).
Both gun owners and non-owners agreed that they would want to know if their colleagues were carrying guns at school.  Rep. Pike’s proposal is to keep such information with the district superintendent only.

All Respondents
Respondents who don’t own guns
Respondents who own guns

1  I worry about gun violence in my school.
Strongly Agree-11.4%
Somewhat Agree-18.2
Somewhat Disagree-27.8
Strongly Disagree—20.5

Strongly Agree-8.7%
Somewhat Agree-18.1
Somewhat Disagree-29.9
Strongly Disagree—23.6
Strongly Agree- 18.8%
Somewhat Agree-16.7
Somewhat Disagree-22.9
Strongly Disagree—12.5
2  I feel safe at my school.
Strongly Agree-40.9%
Somewhat Agree-38.1
Somewhat Disagree-5.7
Strongly Disagree—4.0
Strongly Agree-44.1%
Somewhat Agree-37.8
Somewhat Disagree-4.7
Strongly Disagree—2.4

Strongly Agree-33.3%
Somewhat Agree-39.6
Somewhat Disagree-8.3
Strongly Disagree—6.3
3  Knowing that some adults were carrying guns at my school would cause me to feel safer.
Strongly Agree-8.0%
Somewhat Agree-12.6
Somewhat Disagree-14.9
Strongly Disagree—58.3

Strongly Agree-1.6%
Somewhat Agree-6.3
Somewhat Disagree-15.9
Strongly Disagree—70.6
Strongly Agree-22.9%
Somewhat Agree-29.2
Somewhat Disagree-12.5
Strongly Disagree—27.1
4  If adults could carry guns at school, schools would be safer.
Strongly Agree-9.1%
Somewhat Agree-12.0
Somewhat Disagree-16.0
Strongly Disagree—58.9

Strongly Agree-3.2%
Somewhat Agree-5.6
Somewhat Disagree-17.5
Strongly Disagree—71.4
Strongly Agree-22.9%
Somewhat Agree-29.2
Somewhat Disagree-12.5
Strongly Disagree—27.1
5  I would carry a gun at school if it were allowed.
Strongly Agree-8.6%
Somewhat Agree-8.0
Somewhat Disagree-5.1
Strongly Disagree—74.3

Strongly Agree-0.8%
Somewhat Agree-3.2
Somewhat Disagree-5.6
Strongly Disagree—88.9
Strongly Agree-27.1%
Somewhat Agree-20.8
Somewhat Disagree-4.2
Strongly Disagree—37.5
6  I would want to know if my colleagues were carrying guns at school.
Strongly Agree-79.0%
Somewhat Agree-9.1
Somewhat Disagree-2.8
Strongly Disagree—1.1
Strongly Agree-86.6%
Somewhat Agree-5.5
Somewhat Disagree-1.6
Strongly Disagree—1.6

Strongly Agree-58.3%
Somewhat Agree-18.8
Somewhat Disagree-6.3
Strongly Disagree—0.0
7  I am confident that my school leadership could create effective policies and procedures regarding gun safety and incident response.
Strongly Agree-27.0%
Somewhat Agree-26.4
Somewhat Disagree-8.6
Strongly Disagree—15.5
Strongly Agree-24.8%
Somewhat Agree-28.0
Somewhat Disagree-10.4
Strongly Disagree—17.6
Strongly Agree-33.3%
Somewhat Agree-20.8
Somewhat Disagree-4.2
Strongly Disagree—10.4

To view comments, click here for
Gun Owner Respondents
Non-owner Respondents

Survey Respondents' Comments--Non-owners

Comments (as written) from Respondents who don’t own guns
Shooting people is not what teachers do. Schools could never be completely secure, but the U.S. could lower gun incidents somewhat with stricter gun control. How much freedom are we willing to give up to be safer?
1/16/2013 3:40 PM 

In these times, we have to worry about gun violence when before it never crossed our minds. I wonder if adults in Ct. had been armed, would the outcome have been different.
1/14/2013 2:16 PM 

I am concerned about the presence of guns on campus unless they are in the possession of highly trained staff members. The possibility of a student obtaining a gun that is supposed to be controlled by a staff member and using it, worries me. However, I do wish that the principal or counselor at Sandy Hook had been armed and I can see that if the RIGHT person was armed in any school shooting, lives could be saved. I'm conflicted.There are staff members that I have known throughout the years that I would definitely not feel comfortable knowing they were armed. I consider myself in that group.
1/14/2013 9:59 AM

5& 6. I believe if highly trained personnel were in a building, especially secondary, such as police officers, it would be safer to have personnel with guns. However, they would need to be highly trained. Only in that situation would I feel safer. Any other situation, I would feel less safe, e.g. teachers with guns, custodians with guns, NRA volunteers with guns, would cause me to feel less safe. 9. Our building has a very weak and ineffective administrator.
1/14/2013 8:59 AM

I have been interested in this issue for decades. The most salient factor for me is that the presence of more guns vastly increases the likelihood that those guns will be used and people will be injured or die. It is poor logic to assume that staff with guns will prevent gun violence. There is too great a chance that students could find a way to access these guns or that the guns might be used impulsively or recklessly by staff with access. When a gun is present in a home, the chance that someone in the home will be injured/killed by that gun increases by 50%. A similar likelihood would exist in a school setting. We need FEWER not more guns in the environment. When gun violence has occurred in other countries, voters have acted quickly to restrict access to guns. But in the US the chance of being killed or injured by a gun is vastly greater than in countries with restrictions. Moreover, there have been 2 mass killings recently at an army base where there were numerous individuals who were armed but unable to stop the gunmen until it was too late.
1/14/2013 8:32 AM

More guns do not make anyone safer. Guns in schools is a STUPID IDEA and is only rooted in fear and ignorance.
1/14/2013 8:03 AM

The only person at my school who is qualified to carry a gun is our School Resource Officer. I would be nervous if teachers carried weapons. To me, that is giving more people access to guns. There's no guarantee those weapons would not get into the hands of the wrong person.
1/14/2013 7:46 AM

I have heard many things on this issue since Newtown and the NRA's subsequent plan of arming more "good guys" to help stop "bad guys" with guns. I have also heard them blame viloent video games and violent moives for the glorification of violence. But other countries have access to the same video games and movies; what they do not have easy access to is guns. Automobiles are heavily regulated by the government and have become safer over the last fifty years. Guns are lightly regulated by comparison and I feel a large part of the comparatively large amount of gun violence in the US is at least, in part, due to the relatively easy accessibility of guns. That said, I do not see how arming teachers is a positive step in the direction toward curbing gun violence. That is, if the problem is easy access to guns, how does having more guns around make people safer?
1/14/2013 7:10 AM

I am comfortable with my school resource officer carrying a gun. She is a trained police officer and knows what she is doing, and is trained to react with a cool and level head in a crisis situation. As for the rest of us - teachers are trained educators. We are not policemen and we should not ask (or be asked) to be them. Students and staff knowing that someone is packing heat - maybe there are a handful of incidences that will be prevented, but I think the larger effect of a climate of fear and paranoia, that is more pervasive and damaging.
1/13/2013 9:31 PM

I didn't understand # 9 aboe. The bottom line for me is thatI don't want guns of any kind in schools. People who mean to do harm with guns have the advantage of the time and place that they choose. An armed guard did not help at Columbine, and heck, a security system and locked doors did not help at Newtown. What we have to get rid of is assault weapons and large capacity ammo magazines. As former Gen. McKrystal noted, assault weapons do major damage to bodies; only soldiers and SWAT teams need to have them. As for large capacity ammo magazines, again, why do these need to be available to the general citizenry?
1/13/2013 2:02 PM

If teachers are allowed to carry guns at school, then the parents will also want to carry them and then we just have more guns all around our kids. All this situation is asking for is for more kids to be accidentally shot and killed! I am strongly opposed to this!
1/13/2013 1:24 PM

More guns lead to more gun violence. Theft, accidental discharge, innocents caught in crossfire -- this is what's likely to happen with guns in schools. My next door neighbor's house was robbed 2 days ago and 2 pistols including a 44 magnum and ammo were taken. Is he safer now because he had guns in his house? I certainly feel less safe knowing that 2 more weapons are in the hands of creeps.
1/13/2013 12:27 AM

It would be great if school districts would require an SRO in buildings. We have one that is very visible and active in our school and I know he contributes exponentially to the safety of our school by just being present.
1/13/2013 8:53 AM

I feel that having guns would make school more unsafe.
1/13/2013 8:39 AM

Fewer guns means fewer people killed or wounded by them. Period.
1/12/2013 8:21 PM

There is no way to guarantee that a loaded gun could be kept safe, and if it could there is no way anyone could get to it in time to use it to shoot an intruder. What would that do to the person then who had to shoot someone? Would they be a hero? could they continue to teach in their community. What if the intruder was a former student? This is not what teachers are trained for, we do enough to stay true to our goal without adding firearms training into the mix.
1/12/2013 8:00 PM

I am a highly qualified, effective, passionate, National Board Certified Teacher. I love my profession and it is not a job, but a calling. That said, the day that I am asked to bring a gun to school I will walk away from my passion. The instant a colleague brings a gun to school I will leave the students I care for so dearly. This is not the answer and it sickens and saddens me to think that this is even being discussed.
1/12/2013 7:20 PM

Creating laws to prohibit the possession of guns that have a magazine with multiple bullets is what needs to be done. Also, more funding of mental health care is the other area that needs enhancing to help those that need it. Our culture of promoting violence as the way to solve problems (especially for men) needs to change!
1/12/2013 10:23 AM

Ridiculous option to have guns in schools! Sounds like we are going back to the Wild West! Creating security systems and maybe pepper spray or a bat?! Bottom line-work on improving our mental health system.
1/12/2013 9:25 AM

We cannot plan for everything, but keeping students and staff must be a priority for school districst-but it must not include more guns. Put in more gates, locks, doors, less windows even moats. Do not permit guns on campuses. That tells students that the only way to prevent another Sandy Hook is to arm us all. Is that the message we want to encourage?
1/12/2013 8:46 AM

I teach children. I am unprepared nor do i desire to be prepared to kill a human being.
1/11/2013 10:34 PM

I do not think that guns in schools is the answer. What we need to do is make students feel safe in schools. We need to have stronger anti-bullying campaigns and stop the "right of passage" mentality that is so strongly ingrained in our society. No child should be bullied. It is rare that a shooter is a person who is not a student. Newtown was a completely random occurrence and most school shooters are students or ex-students. It all begins when a child bullies another child, guns in adult's hands can't stop that, education can.
1/11/2013 9:51 PM

Having guns at school increases the likelihood of accidents more than increasing the likelihood of protecting ourselves from another Newtown incident. I, for one, don't want to be responsible for keeping hundreds of children a day from being involved in an accident involving guns kept on campus.
1/11/2013 9:18 PM

Guns do not belong in schools period. No exceptions. That would not make me feel safe, but would make me uncomfortable. It's a sick idea that has nothing to do with the actual problem.
1/11/2013 8:31 PM

There is no place for guns in schools. We need to bring peace to our state, country, and world. Carrying guns is not peaceful nor a solution to the problem. We need more mental health for people with mental health issues.
1/11/2013 6:00 PM

Guns don't belong in schools. Neither do machetes, pit bulls or fireworks, all of which are legal outside of school, but are a danger to kids in schools.
1/11/2013 5:36 PM

Allowing guns to be carried in schools would increase the possibility of accidents. Schools are meant for children, and we should not bring guns into that environment. Police officers should be the people carrying guns, not community members.
1/11/2013 5:34 PM

Sad survey to have to take......
1/11/2013 5:23 PM

I feel schools should be proactive and be prepared for anything that arises by practicing frequent drills, but not always with the same routine - give senarios (ie this side of the building is on fire - can't go this way) Everyone should be looking over their shoulder. The only way to make students and staff safe at school would be to set up school like a prison - gates around, buzz in and out. I do not think most people would like to work in this manner.
1/11/2013 4:50 PM

I think the position of the NRA is NUTS! No way, no how do I ever want to see schools be anything but gun free zones.
1/11/2013 3:32 PM

I think we need to come up with a better way to make our school safe Teachers carrying guns in the schools is scary to me.
1/11/2013 2:58 PM

I worry if teachers have guns that students in higher levels would take Advantage if that, I worry that if teachers had guns and there was a shooting that police would not know who the shooter is because if all the adults with guns. Most school shootings are done by assault weapons, what is a hand gun going to do against that caliber weapon. If teachers are going after the gunman, who is watching their students?
1/11/2013 10:14 AM

This is a ludicrous suggestion! What happens the first time we have an accidental shooting because the teachers are bringing guns to school? Also does anyone really think a teacher would have the time to usher students to safety, then go and retrieve the locked-up gun, load it and engage in a gunfight- when faced with a semi- automatic/automatic weapon? Really? And lastly, at what point do teachers say "enough"? Our duties go far, far beyond providing a good education for students and now we're to go and spend our time in gun safety courses and engage in gunfights as needed? Really? This is a much societal bigger issue that will not be resolved by putting armed guards in school an/or requiring teachers to carry guns! Wake up!!!!!!!!
1/11/2013 9:23 AM

I would only be comfortable with staff members carrying guns if there were extensive precautions taken to ensure that students absolutely would not be able to have access to them. I think there would have to be extra training for those staff members, in addition to having a concealed weapons permit.
1/11/2013 9:19 AM

If guns are at schools, I worry about them falling into the wrong hands or being misused, especially in middle and high schools. Statistics show that you're much more likely to be shot if you have a gun in your house. I would think the same would be true in a school.
1/11/2013 9:04 AM

More guns = more violence
1/11/2013 8:18 AM

If teachers had guns then there would be incidences where students would attempt to take the gun from the teacher and do harm. Many times this would be a failed attempt but there would be the occasional time where the student would succeed. Increasing the amount of guns at school would increase, not decrease, the amount of gun violence in schools.
1/11/2013 8:04 AM

The caliber of school administrative employees has gradually eroded over the past three decades to the point that I would have no confidence either that most administrators could properly lead their staff and students in case of a dire emergency (whether staff armed or not), or properly regulate guns in a school in such a way that would be effective in protecting the safety of the school. The ONLY good policy re guns and schools is to ban them completely, for all staff and students. NO culture of guns is welcome in an educational environment at any level, in my opinion.
1/11/2013 7:37 AM

I think each school needs to have an armed guard/ trained officer but do not believe taxpayers would find this. As of now we are virtually defenseless against an attacker and I would feel safer if armed, especially if many of the teachers were trained and armed.
1/10/2013 9:47 PM

Guns in school is the most ridiculous idea I have ever heard!
1/10/2013 8:57 PM

since no one other than trained soldiers and police officers have the level of training required to make split second decisions regarding who and when to shoot as well as accuracy required I believe and studies show that untrained persons with guns are more likely to injure or kill someone innocent than the criminal. Therefore having anyone carry a gun where we have 100s of children raised the likelihood of an accidental shooting and does not deter nor stop an actual school shooting. Not only would I not work in such an environment I would not allow my own children to attend a school where an staff member has the ability to carry a firearm at school.
1/10/2013 8:31 PM

Would they carry gun, if it is locked in a cabinet is not of much use? School area is too large, inside and out can never be totally covered by one or two people with guns.
1/10/2013 11:28 AM

I do not think that guns at school are the answer. More weapons is never going to be effective. Also, if there were a shooting in the school, how will the police officers know if the people with guns are staff or students who are doing the shooting? It absolutely terrifies me that our state legislators are even discussing allowing teachers/staff to carry guns at school.
1/9/2013 1:49 PM

I think that as educators we know how to work with kids, not how to deal with a dangerous person with firearms. Arming staff is a bad idea. does that mean that the staff member at one end of the building would run down to handle the armed intruder at the other end of the building. It's a stupid idea, frankly.
1/9/2013 12:51 AM

Over 500 children are killed accidentally by guns each year. That outweighs the all-time total of deaths of school shootings. It is stupid to think that having guns in schools wouldn't result in more accidental killings. Also who's to say that the adults allowed to carry guns wouldn't use them nefariously? The folks who did the shootings either got the guns legally or got them from someone who did. There are plenty of teachers out there that are a little off in the mental health department. More guns does not equal less gun deaths. The places with the least gun deaths in the world are places without guns.
1/9/2013 11:49 AM

Accidents happen with guns. That is why I feel they don't belong in schools, concealed or otherwise.
1/9/2013 10:52 AM

We absolutely should not arm educators. Columbine had an armed guard and that wasn't a deterrent. There is a greater chance something would go wrong with the guns the "good guys" are carrying and cause more injury than some "bad guy" attacking the school.
1/8/2013 3:17 PM

There is enough tension and there are enough problems without adding staff members packing heat. I think it would create more problems than it would solve.
1/8/2013 12:01 AM

Guns do not belong in public schools for a number of reasons relating to personal safety, but having guns in our schools also sends a sad message to children- that we need to counter violence with more violence. I would not send my children to a school where guns were allowed for anyone.
1/8/2013 10:33 AM

Adding more guns to a school will not make me feel safer. Enacting strict gun laws, including banning assault weapons and multiple round ammunition will. And we need better mental health services for young men, who are resonsible for all of these senseless acts.
1/7/2013 7:31 PM

by adults do you mean faculty or parents and volunteers as well.
1/7/2013 2:45 PM

Whilst I strongly disagree with guns in school, I feel assured that our school leadership would create effective policies, if that scenario took place.
1/7/2013 2:14 PM

I do not believe any faculty member should be able to carry guns. I believe only specific individuals in charge of security at the school with proper gun safety training and background checks should be able to carry guns. At our school, we have a designated police officer who is often at our school which makes me feel safer.
1/7/2013 12:05 AM

Unless the guns were concealed on the adults, I think they would pose more danger. I would not want them kept in a room in a cupboard or desk drawer, for example. I would also want anyone carrying a gun to go through extensive training prior to be allowed to carry it at school.
1/7/2013 12:03 AM

There are only so many situations that anyone can plan for and because we all have different life experiences, some will think of situations or ideas that others will not. We can only plan for a "known" type of situation. We cannot "know" all that others think or plan. It isn't always the owner of the gun that is the problem, as we have seen guns are stolen, given to others, or taken away and used agains the owner. Then there is the angle that some don't know when to use or not to use a gun. Is that extreme necessary?
1/7/2013 10:36 AM

I do not think this is a good idea. Period.
1/7/2013 9:26 AM

This is not a solution! I am completely against this notion.
1/7/2013 8:55 AM

There are other measures that could be taken besides staff carrying weapons. Adults rather they are staff, teachers or admin. all have issues that we may not even know about. This is just as unsafe as the random acts that have occured.
1/7/2013 8:50 AM

We have an armed police officer in our school and that is very helpful and makes me feel more secure. We also practice drills. We have had threats and incidents. I want us to be aware and try things that will work.
1/7/2013 7:28 AM

I would be worried that a disgruntled student would be able to get a hold of the gun and cause havoc whereas when they have to find their own weapons outside of school it makes it harder for them.
1/7/2013 7:21 AM

There is no reason to have guns in schools.
1/7/2013 7:14 AM

The chances of any staff member being in the right place at the right time and in the right frame of mind to defend themselves and students if a sudden violent incident occurred somewhere in the school, is very unlikely. Staff need to focus on teaching and keeping their students safe - not hunting down criminals. I don't believe that the "gun carriers" would remain anonymous amongst the students and staff.
1/6/2013 8:04 PM

Guns at school is not safe. Students would know who has a gun. I would definitely worth that a student could access these weapons. Not a good idea.
1/6/2013 7:24 PM

We have an SRO who carries a gun. He is trained to deal with dangerous situations. I would NOT want untrained staff to have guns on campus. In general, the more guns on campus the more likelyhood of an accident or a misinterpretation of a situation. Keep schools gun free except for police or sheriffs.
1/6/2013 7:38 AM

I think it would be a big mistake. It won't make us safer and it could endanger the students as some of them are not always making good decisions and may try to get their hands on a gun.
1/5/2013 7:13 PM

Guns is not the solution; getting the help for these students with mental illness can be a start. if a gun is permitted, it should be permitted to the police officer that is assigned at the school. A full time officer should be assigned to each of our schools if not two.
1/5/2013 4:21 PM

I'm out of teaching if we need to start carrying guns.
1/5/2013 1:50 PM

I am not against personal gun ownership, but I would be terrified if I knew that there was ANYONE carrying a gun on the premises. I don't even like knowing cops on campus have guns
1/5/2013 11:01 AM

I'm not sure how confident I am with some staff members being responsible enough to keep firearms out of the hands of students, or the possibiity of being overpowered by an out-of-control student.
1/5/2013 10:24 AM

If guns were allowed in schools, then kids would automatically have access to them. Groups of students could overpower a teacher and take the gun and the school. Kids would break any barrier to get at a gun if they wanted. It seems to me that if you put a gun in the hands of a teacher, you are assuming that that teacher is proficient enough and responsible to know how to use it and when to use it. I think there are too many idiots (yes, I mean teachers) who would not react favorably in a situation where a gun was involved. Why bring in this problem as a solution to a larger societal one. Idiotic. Asinine (sp). Dangerous. Stupid. Thoughtless. What else can I say, NO!
1/5/2013 9:55 AM

Guns are guns.
1/5/2013 9:19 AM

Re question 9: I am confident that my building leadership team would create effective policies and procedures. Schools should be part of the long-term response to the issue of violence in our society. Non-violent communication and conflict resolution should be part of the curriculum beginning in early elementary and all the way through K-12.
1/5/2013 9:16 AM