Gun violence

AOAV condemns the arming of teachers in American public schools

This week it was reported that an American public school, Clarksville High School in Arkansas, is to permit 20 of its teachers, administrators and other school employees to carry concealed weapons at school.

Action on Armed Violence criticises this move as unnecessary and is horrified that teachers are increasing being allowed to carry loaded weapons on school grounds.

Clarksville High School are making use of a little-known Arkansas law that allows licensed, armed security guards on campus. According to the Arkansas State Department of Education, up until now no school district has ever used the law to arm teachers on the job.

Teacher participants are reportedly being given $1,100 to purchase a handgun and holster. And the local district is reportedly paying up to $50,000 for ammunition and for training by Nighthawk Custom Training Academy, a private training facility in northwest Arkansas.

The district will also post signs at each school about the armed guards, but the identities of those carrying weapons will be kept secret.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) in the US has declared arming teachers the best response to the threats.

Arkansas joins at least seven other states that already have armed guards, though not necessarily armed teachers, in schools, states with a range of permissive to stringent guns: South Dakota, Ohio, Colorado, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Washington state.

Pew poll in January found that although 64 percent of Americans favoured putting armed security guards of some kind in schools, they were largely opposed to giving teachers and school officials guns.

Iain Overton, Director of Policy and Investigations at AOAV, said: “The idea of teachers going to school carrying concealed weapons is indicative of a deeper malaise in American society.  Last week a State governor admitted she thought about shooting people when down the gun range.  This week teachers are packing guns to go to school. What’s needed are tougher gun laws and less lobbying from pro-gun campaigners. The NRW should be ashamed of themselves for even promoting this as a way forward.”

Steve Smith, CEO of AOAV, said: “A country that needs to arm its teachers with concealed firearms in order to protect its children in school, is troubled. Other than the US, no country in the world feels the need to do this. At the height of the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland, members of the Ulster Defence Regiment were armed with personal protection weapons. Only one IRA man was killed by a soldier using such a weapon in self-defence. By contrast, there were numerous fatalities through suicides and accidents. If that was the outcome when providing trained soldiers with concealed weapons, what makes anyone think that arming teachers will have less harmful consequences?”