Experts: Arming teachers not the answer to stopping active shooters

Putting guns in the hands of staff members may be a decision that schools regret

“We would have to rethink everything we’re doing. Where are we keeping that weapon? Who has access to that weapon?” asked Timm. “We would have to put together such a set of standards, codes or best practices and then, after we put it all together, we would have to have some kind of a watchdog organization to make sure that it is all being complied with.”

Despite efforts by lawmakers and school districts to arm school personnel, there’s doesn’t appear to be widespread support for these measures among school teachers themselves. According to a survey conducted by School Improvement Network in the aftermath of Sandy Hook that included responses from over 10,000 teachers nationwide, only three out of 10 said that they would bring a firearm to school if they were allowed to do so and more than 90 percent indicated that they felt safe on their campus.

Fiel said one thing he’s noticed in his travels to schools across the U.S. is that many of them still haven’t had adequate physical security assessments performed. “They’re more focused on, ‘let’s have a teacher carry a gun,’ rather than locking the doors to prevent the intruder from making an effort to come in,” he added.

Rather than focus on letting teachers carry guns, Fiel said that schools need to put more emphasis on their physical security measures and being able to quickly lockdown in case they ever do have an active shooter incident.  Additionally, Fiel said that school personnel should be well-versed in their security plans, ensure that the technology they have in place, such PA systems, are working properly, and conduct drills on various types of active shooter scenarios.

Timm believes that schools also need to stop trading security for convenience. “If they begin to follow security practices like not propping exterior doors open, always carrying a two-way radio when they have students outside and if they begin to follow these practices on a consistent basis, that will make a world of difference in reducing risks that they currently face,” he said.  

Fiel believes that there is a small percentage of schools that have taken the right steps when it comes to securing their facilities, but that there is room for improvement on the vast majority of campuses. “We have to be able to secure these campuses better than what we’re doing today,” Fiel said.