Armed and Academic? What 30 Teachers Think About Guns

President Trump thinks arming educators will make students safer. We asked teachers if they agree.

Handgun and pencils on red background
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Since the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, students, celebrities, and concerned citizens have been voicing their opinions as to what needs to be done to end America’s mass shooting problem. On Thursday, President Trump offered his solution: arm teachers. In a series of tweets, Trump said to, “look at the possibility of giving 'concealed guns to gun adept teachers with military or special training experience,’” suggesting that teachers could "fire back if a savage sicko came to a school” and that putting guns in the classroom would "serve as a deterrent to the cowards.” He added, “problem solved” and “ATTACKS WOULD END!” [Emphasis his.]

Trump, a former real-estate developer, has, of course, never been a teacher, never been in a situation like Parkland. So decided to find out what America’s educators think of Trump’s idea. We put a call out on social media to teachers across the country, asking them send us their honest thoughts on giving guns to faculty. Here’s what they had to say.

What Teachers Think

“Arming teachers in the classroom as a means of protection is not an appropriate or productive way to prevent future school shootings. Not only would this further perpetuate the idea of weapons as a solution, but it would also send the wrong message to the young students in my classroom. I would never want my students to believe that concealed weapons in our classroom are necessary to be safe, and instead would want them to feel protected in our school systems without the need to 'fight back' with similar violence. My values are not for sale, and therefore any monetary compensation would not change my opinion on this matter.” —Alex, 27, teaches 1st grade in Chicago, IL

“I have been a teacher since 1991—the majority of that time in a high school. Over the years I’ve seen so many changes to the profession and the students I teach. It seems that each year the responsibilities and expectations of teachers increases but the respect and compensation does not match the demands. I don’t mind that so much because I love the kids. However, I am insulted that the president even suggested the foolish idea that we be trained to carry guns on campus. I’m a teacher not an armed guard. I will not carry a gun to school—that is for trained security personnel." —Chris, 53, teaches high school in Parkland, FL

Collage of school shooting pics

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“Adding guns to the equation will not fix the problem. Adding education about the subject will help fix the problem. Teachers need to not be equipped with guns, but instead with more time to connect with their students and educate them on what to do if this situation occurs. Teachers are supposed to focus on teaching, educating, and building relationships with students—not worrying about carrying guns to save our students." —Julia, 22, teaches preschool in Nelsonville, OH

“I am a second-grade teacher in Parkland, FL. Our school is one of the elementary schools that feeds into Stoneman Douglas. We are located about a mile down the road. I am a registered gun owner and I have a gun in my home for defense. I see nothing good about teachers having guns at school. I think it is extremely dangerous and can lead to a number of accidents that will result in losing more lives. We cannot stop the gun violence with more guns. I pray that our law makers will have the common sense to throw that idea into the trash and focus more on stringent background checks, waiting periods, raising the age to purchase a firearm, and to ban semi-automatic weapons which have no use in a civilized society." —Gail, teaches 2nd grade in Parkland, FL

“I don't need a gun, I need lawmakers who put my students' lives before a civilian's right to an assault rifle. As a teacher of children, I have gotten to know so many kids who need mental health support but cannot get it due to lack of resources and only one counselor with limited training for the entire school. Students need emotional support on how to deal with trauma and anger. We need our students to feel safe, and they can't feel safe in a school full of guns. We don't need to react, we need to prevent." —Ashley, teaches 4th grade in Illinois.

I’m a teacher, not an armed guard. I will not carry a gun to school.

“Even if you offered me a $1 million bonus I would not carry a gun. I did not become a teacher because I wanted to be armed; I became a teacher so that I could love, nurture, and teach children. Even if I had a gun I would be too afraid to use it. Guns are scary, as they are meant to be. Arming teachers with guns is only using the problem, which is guns, as the solution.” —Jill, 55, teaches 5th grade in Parkland, FL

“I have training on fire safety, epinephrine auto-injector use, suicide prevention, serving the homeless population, child abuse and neglect, and many more. I have attained credentials that help my students earn college credit, and I attend professional development to hone my craft. Carrying a gun would require training and a level of expertise that is not the best use of my limited time and is not the best way for me to serve students. It certainly is not the answer to solve violence in our schools." —Lois, teaches 11th grade in Marysville, OH

“The idea of arming teachers is absolutely ridiculous. We already have 500 things on our plate and now we'd have to worry about carrying a weapon? What if a kid gets his/her hands on it? What if there is an active shooter, first responders enter the building, and see an adult with a gun? Who are they going to shoot? The government can't even fully financially support us as is, and now they want to buy us weapons and train us? Why not spend that money on ensuring that we have the resources we need to get to know our children. If you want to know what to arm us with, check out the Instagram movement #armmewith.” —Andrya, 22, teaches 6th and 7th grade in Miami, FL

“Arming teachers is a frighteningly bad idea. It will not lead to safer schools and it will change the tenor of classrooms for the worse. It is a wrongheaded and fake solution to a problem that legislators use to distract their constituents from the real issue at hand. The easiest way to limit gun deaths in schools is to limit the availability of guns of mass destruction. It's frustrating that so many children have to die unnecessarily for our Republican legislators to realize that their campaign contributions and other forms of NRA support are not worth the lives of our children.” —Josh, 29, teaches high school in St. Louis, MO

I don't need a gun, I need lawmakers who put my students' lives before a civilian's right.

“I will not carry a gun. I am not willing to be a murderer. Arming teachers is a simpleton’s response to appease the fear-soaked culture. Teachers carrying guns diverts the message away from the one our young people are so powerfully sending: We want weapons of war removed from the hands of angry men and boys. I teach; I do not wield a gun. I will, without fear, continue to arm young activists with a sense of agency to do something about the terrorist acts in our schools." —Ann, 46, teaches 11th-12th grade in Bettendorf, IA

“In my ten years as an educator, I have jumped at any opportunity that will help me better serve the next generation. The suggestion that teachers can better do their job by bearing arms is preposterous and incendiary. All research shows that proximity to guns themselves is dangerous. Additionally, students can't learn when they feel unsafe. I personally would not feel safe existing in the same room as a loaded weapon, and I can't imagine children would either. I would leave the profession if bearing arms was required or worse, rewarded. This proposed solution would benefit no one but gun manufacturers, whose bulging pockets are already stained with the blood of America's children." —Kristen, teaches middle school in Newark, NJ

Sad scenes from afternath of school shooting. Just say no to guns

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“This idea is ridiculous, and no incentive would make me want to participate in training or want to be armed with a weapon. My classroom and students are precious, I feel strongly about protecting and supporting them, but providing a gun is not the solution. Provide schools with counselors, social workers, and training for teachers to support students experiencing trauma or anxiety or depression as so many of our students are. Students need to feel loved to feel safe and empowered...Militarizing schools is not the answer.” —Amy, 31, teaches 8th grade in Lawrence, MA

“To me, arming teachers is a ridiculous idea. How are teachers supposed to be able to help their students follow safety protocols in a lock down while simultaneously retrieving a gun and then going after a shooter? What if a student would take a gun away from a teacher? Lock boxes are not 100 percent secure. Or is the teacher supposed to be “packing heat” all the time? And how many kids could get hurt or killed in the crossfire in a gun battle between a shooter and a teacher? I believe it is a much better idea to keep guns out of the schools, except for weapons handled by well trained security officers or police. Teachers are under enough stress as it is, without adding the burden of being an in-house security staff to their workload." —Kathy, 58, teaches 4th-12th grade music and theater in Canton, OH

I will take a bullet to protect any of my students. I will never put a bullet into any of them.

“If a policy is passed to arm teachers, I will leave the profession. I am passionate about teaching and I love my students unconditionally. However, there is no place in our schools for weapons. If students are not allowed to pretend to shoot guns with their fingers, what message are we sending if I am openly carrying a firearm? No incentive would keep me in the classroom if I was required to hold a gun. I have never owned a gun nor shot one. I do not want that to change. I would not feel safer. We need gun law reform, not more guns." —Jessica, 33, teaches 1st grade in Virginia

“The short answer: Hell no! The thought of my colleagues being armed is terrifying, and I grew up with and am comfortable using a gun—to keep stray dogs away from my sheep, not to use on people. I don't think teaching empathy (which is a big part of my job) would be effective with a gun on my hip. I can't teach my students to be mature, calm, effective communicators if I am simultaneously reinforcing constant fear through arms in the classroom. It's oxymoronic. It's plain old moronic as well." —Erica, 49, teaches middle and high school in Maryland

Sad scenes from the aftermath of school shooting - vigil

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“Arming teachers is both a terrible and scary thought. What has our country come to that this has become a viable option for ‘safety’ for our children? Imagine 10+ guns on a high school campus at any given time. This would make me feel much less safe on a daily basis, regardless of who is carrying the weapon. Offering bonuses to arm your classroom feels like a slap in the face to already underpaid educators, as well. More guns are not the answer; less guns, and better mental health screenings, are.” —Caylen, 23, teaches 6th-10th grade in Pembroke Pines, FL

“My primary opposition to arming teachers is philosophical. As a teacher, daily I am called to be a counselor, coach, cheerleader, caregiver and surrogate parent, all in addition to the prescribed task of teaching my curriculum. To me, bringing a gun into a classroom is anathema to the very notion of what being a teacher is. I find it akin to arming doctors. The Hippocratic Oath demands physicians 'do no harm,' and teaching is a similarly pacifistic endeavor, one in which we work with those who are sometimes the most vulnerable members of our society at their time of greatest need. I would take a bullet for any of my kids—it's part of the job—but I'd never put a bullet into one of my kids, even if he was shooting at me. I would sooner surrender my teaching license than work for an institution that would support arming teachers, for in doing so, we would no longer be teachers, and our institutions no longer schools." —Scott, 48, teaches 8th grade in Washougal, WA

"I’m a pre-k teacher for Leon county schools and we share a campus with the adult Ed program and the community college. We practice lock down drills and have had incidences where we’ve been on lock down because a gun was on the college campus. I would be more fearful if teachers were able to carry guns at school; it would cause more harm than good. In one of these situations, it’s my job to get my students to a safe space and comfort them in a scary situation. It’s important to keep them calm and quiet, which would be hard to do if I’m also getting my own weapon ready to take down a possible shooter. No amount of training or compensation could prepare me to potentially shoot someone either. And this training would take away from training that potentially could be implemented for educational purposes. I think that this would put another unnecessary burden on teachers who already take on so many roles, when stricter gun control laws would be an easier solution." —Michela, 31, teaches pre-k in Tallahassee, FL

I already have a concealed carry license, so I would naturally feel safer being allowed to have mine.

“Never in a million years would I have chosen to dedicate my life to educating America’s youth had I known I’d one day be asked to carry a gun into my classroom. I may be an English teacher, but I know enough math to undertand that more guns do not equal safer schools. What we do need are more counselors/social workers, more parental involvement, and more help from the federal government to get guns out of the hands of our children. I am disgusted by the path this administration is suggesting, yet not surprised that, yet again, people who have never been classroom teachers are writing policy and making decisions for those of us who actually are." —Kristin, 39, teaches 8th grade in Chicago, IL

“I’d die for my students. In fact, I already do. I die a little bit each time I look around our classroom realizing I couldn’t possibly be everything the forty-two of them need me to be. I couldn’t possibly be their parent, their therapist, their mentor, their confidant, their punching bag, their warm embrace, their time traveler, their bail bondsman, their babysitter, their golden ticket, their solution, their biggest problem, their oracle, their guide, their superhero, and their villain. And although everyday I watch them leave wishing they could stay—I’ve got only one thing I can ever be—their teacher. To arm myself with this country’s fear of the intruder out there, would be to deny to them that the real threat is already here." —Brittani, 30, teaches 12th grade in St. Louis, MO

“Arming teachers is one of the worst ideas that I’ve heard in 22 years of teaching, if not the worst. It won’t make me feel safe. What would make me feel safe is if education was funded the way it should be so that we had supports for students who needed it and resources to support educators in their jobs. Additionally, many educators have said they would actually leave the profession if this happened...during a time when we are already facing a nationwide teacher shortage. Arm me with resources to support my students in my classroom, not with guns." —Rebecca, 43, teaches 5th grade in Naperville, IL


Women and Guns graphic

(Image credit: Marie Claire)

“I was six years in the National Guard before I was a public school teacher. It's why I'm a pacifist now. One of the things the Army taught was dehumanizing the enemy. I've read accounts of teachers who train with guns. What are they told? Picture their favorite student. Then picture that student coming into class with a gun. Then picture shooting him/her. I can't entertain that scenario. My faith precludes it. Ironically, this is the same faith claimed by the people who are pushing guns into schools. The same people who consistently keep cutting our budgets. I love my students, but I have wept multiple times this last week at the futility of it all." —Jeff, teaches 9th grade history, Bettendorf, IA

“As a person of color, I am already at a higher risk of being stereotyped and criminalized for whatever I do. Philando Castile worked in a school, was legally armed, and lost his life because of it. Arming teachers would only exacerbate the problem of classroom safety. You don’t put out a fire by dumping gasoline on it, and you definitely don’t solve school shootings by adding more access to guns, criminalizing mental illness, and turning campuses into the wild west. This isn’t Lethal Weapon where only the 'bad guys' get hit by bullets. We need to force Congress to remember who they’re working for and get the NRA and other major lobbyists out of our policymakers' ears.” —Anonymous, 27, teaches high school in Portland, OR

The day that my colleagues and I are asked to carry firearms is the day I leave the profession.

“Hearing about 'solutions' like this makes me want to cry. Have I thought about how many small bodies I could shield beneath my own in case of an active shooter? Yes. Do I dedicate my life to my craft? Yes. Do I want to give my life for it? No, but because of the NRA’s grip on Conservative politicians, I might have to. Arming me would make me feel like I don’t have a choice—like I’m in a danger zone simply because I love teaching children how to read. Not only that, but I get nervous when students leave kiddie scissors on their desks that there could be an accident. Can you imagine the threat of a weapon in a classroom? You want to arm teachers? Arm us with the compensation we deserve. Arm us with school nurses. Arm us with curricular material. As for people who think their hobby of shooting guns is more valid than the life of a child, I have a suggestion. You want guns in the workplace? You go put your life on the line. Enlist in the military and do something productive for our country instead of telling me to put my life on the line." —Kelsie, 25, teaches 3rd grade in Los Angeles, CA

“I already have a concealed carry license, so I would naturally feel safer being allowed to have mine with me in the school. My hesitation is that it is providing hundreds of guns in a small area to either be stolen or misused. There would have to be strict regulations (i.e. keeping doors locked when the teacher isn't in the room and background checks/yearly mental health check-ups for the staff)." —Kristi-Paige, 25, teaches 9th grade in Little Rock, AR

“The day that my colleagues and I are asked to carry firearms is the day I leave the profession and never look back. Instead, give me the resources that I need, the pay that I deserve, and the respect that I earn every day by committing myself to the children of our community." —Christina, 27, teaches 6th-8th grade in Fort Worth, TX

“My father is a police officer. According to him, when entering this kind of situation, the officers have no idea who the shooter is. A teacher with a gun, could easily be mistaken as a perpetrator and their lives would most certainly be in danger. This will cause more chaos for the officers. They will be distracted by the armed teacher, thinking they have the perpetrator, while the true shooter may still be at large. I also can not imagine teachers having the same training with firearms as police officers, therefore it is not likely, they will take down the shooter. They may even cause injury to bystanders. We need to think about all the complications inherent in this issue." —Dustin, 38 teaches high school in Marysville, OH

Scene of high school shooting - children being led away

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“It would not make me, or my students, feel safer, nor would any bonus conceivable convince me otherwise. Back in September, my school went into soft lockdown. We didn't know why. We didn't know when it would end. We didn't know if we were truly safe to 'continue with normal school activities within the building,' the protocol for soft lockdowns in our building and countless others. I didn't let students near my desk, where I keep extra pencils for them, and I also wasn't able or permitted to explain why. I spent the entire 20 minutes wondering WHEN I would have to give them the signal to hide, and whether I would know if I should instead give them the signal to run, let alone fight. Those 20 minutes were bone chilling: I imagined how I would hide my students. I imagined how I could pretend I had no students in my room. I imagined what it would mean if all these schemes failed. At no point did I wish for a gun." —Kathryn, 28, teaches 7th and 8th grade in Boston, MA

“The idea of arming classroom teachers is nothing short of ludicrous. This would place them in the position of seeing every student in the school as a potential threat. Each student now becomes a possible life that they’ll have to take. Teachers don’t just deliver content. They build relationships. They care about their students’ lives, like a unique extension of their own family, and this kind of bond is what separates good teachers from great ones. Filtering that through a lens of 'I might have to shoot you one day' is incompatible with this essential truth." —Trevor, 30, teaches 11th and 12th grade in Georgia

“I’m a NYC public high school teacher. There is no way that I would ever agree to carrying a gun. It will completely ruin the teacher-student relationship. My job is to mentor, educate and facilitate my students’ learning. Sometimes I have to remind a student to get off of Snapchat and pay attention to the lesson. Imagine how loaded that somewhat minor request would be if the student knew I had a Glock concealed under my Ann Taylor Loft pantsuit? Also, because I’m an AP History teacher, I’d like to back up my claim with some supporting details: Let’s say we want to arm one-fifth of the 3.6 million teachers in the U.S.A., that’s 718,000 teachers. With the cheapest training and discounted Glock, it will cost $251 million to arm 718,000 teachers. If we want top notch training and a full-price firearm, it will cost taxpayers past $1 billion. How can we tell our students—in my case, at a school where 70 percent qualify for a free school lunch—that we can't afford the same supplies/technology at the nearby private school, but we can foot the bill of arming our teachers instead?" —Sari, teaches high school in New York, NY

Book and gun

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