xi's moments
Home | Americas

Republican-led states push to arm teachers

By BELINDA ROBINSON in New York | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-03-02 07:09

People mourn for victims of a school mass shooting at a square in Uvalde, Texas, the United States on May 24, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

An effort is underway in some mainly Republican-led states of the United States to arm teachers in the classroom amid worsening gun violence in schools.

The states of Idaho, Nebraska, Iowa and West Virginia have received support from gun rights group National Rifle Association, or NRA.

Carl Bogus, a law professor at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island, told China Daily that the Republican Party considers the gun lobby to be an "essential component of its political coalition".

Around 30 states already allow teachers to carry firearms on school grounds or in classrooms under varying conditions, the Giffords Law Center said. Sixteen states prohibit it.

Most of the new arming proposals are coming up against anti-gun groups and gun violence survivors who say it will pose a safety risk to children, especially if school staff can carry weapons without first getting the approval of their local school boards.

"School shootings are chaotic and in these moments of chaos, we cannot ask teachers to stop a shooter, potentially a current or former student," nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety said in a statement.

The US has reported 54 school shootings this year, according to the K-12 School Shooting Database, which reports when a gun is fired, brandished or a bullet hits school property. Last year, there were 346 school shooting incidents across the country.

The states that experienced the worst school gun violence last year were California, Ohio and Texas, where more than 248 people were wounded or killed.

Texas, Maryland and California had the most deaths from school shootings, according to the database.

In Idaho, only 15 of 172 school districts and charter schools currently allow staff to carry weapons on school premises. A school board has to authorize teachers and other staff to have a gun.

To push for change, Idaho's conservative politicians have put together a bill that has the full support of the NRA.

It would allow any public school employee to carry a firearm — if they have a concealed weapons license — without having to get a school board's approval.

More harm than good

But Jenifer Hodge, a mother and teacher from Nebraska, said putting more guns in schools only increases the risks of shootings. "None of us can be expected in a moment of extreme duress and confusion to transform into a specially trained law enforcement officer," she said.

Arming teachers in schools can cause more harm than good, Everytown For Gun Safety said, as it "puts the lives of students, teachers and law enforcement in danger".

Jeffrey Fagan, a law professor at Columbia University in New York, told China Daily that in general, fewer, not more, guns are the way to reduce "the unacceptably high rates of both lethal and nonlethal firearm violence".

In West Virginia, the Republican-led legislature has put a few bills forward to arm teachers.

Deanna McKinney, a survivor of gun violence and chapter lead for the West Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action, said: "Yet again, our legislators in West Virginia would rather put more guns in our schools than pass real solutions to keep our children safe.

"We refuse to let reckless ideas like putting guns in the hands of teachers with very little training dominate the debate about school safety."


Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349