SANTA MONICA, Calif. — A new survey reveals that one out of every five American teachers believes carrying guns into the classroom would enhance school safety. However, more than half of the teachers surveyed think that armed teachers would make students less safe.
Despite this, gun violence was not the highest safety concern among teachers. Only one out of 20 teachers listed it as their primary worry, with bullying taking the top spot.
This survey, conducted by the non-profit research organization, Rand Corporation, found that 54 percent of the teachers surveyed believed that teachers carrying firearms would make schools less safe. In contrast, 20 percent thought it would make schools safer, while 26 percent felt it would neither enhance nor reduce safety.
Surprisingly, teachers were more concerned about bullying than gun violence. This survey, conducted in October and November of 2022, focused on teachers’ perceptions of safety in their schools.
“Even with the unfortunate regularity of gun violence in U.S. schools, which often drives the policy debate around school safety, only 5% of teachers overall selected gun violence as their largest safety concern,” says Heather L. Schwartz, one of the authors of the report and a senior policy researcher at RAND, in a media release.
“Despite the prevalence of anti-bullying programs, everyday school violence is a concern for teachers. Bullying, not active shooters, was teachers’ most common top safety concern, followed by fights and drugs.”
Schwartz points out that teachers’ views about whether they should carry guns into class varied both by their race and ethnicity and by the racial and ethnic composition of the students in their school. White teachers were more likely than Black teachers to feel that teachers carrying firearms would make schools safer. Male teachers in rural schools were the most likely to say they would personally carry a firearm at school if permitted.
Besides armed staff, teachers also thought other visible school safety measures positively affected the school climate. The most common physical safety measures, which over 80 percent of teachers said their school had implemented, were visitor systems, exterior and interior locks, and staff IDs.
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South West News Service writer Stephen Beech contributed to this report.