While pro-gun legislators want to arm teachers with guns, there is little evidence that these programs work

GUN VIOLENCE

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While the USA was dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, another crisis hit the country: gun violence was the leading cause of death among youth Americans. The rate of firearm-related deaths among American youths aged under 20 years has increased by 29.5 percent, twice the increase in gun deaths among the general population. Even with these alarming statistics about gun-related deaths in children, pro-gun lawmakers call for more guns in schools to address the nation’s school shooting crisis.

After 19 children, two teachers, and 17 other victims were killed in the Uvalde massacre, in Texas last week, calls for tighter gun control legislation were renewed. Conservatives and gun lobbyists insist that more guns are needed to end the nation’s mass shooting epidemic. Some even advocate arming teachers and school personnel with guns.

After the shooting at Uvalde school, Ken Paxton, Texas Attorney General, was one of the first Republican elected officials who called for the arming of educators.

“We cannot stop bad people doing bad things.” During an appearance on Fox News, Paxton stated that we can arm, prepare, and train teachers and other administrative staff to respond quickly. Former President Donald Trump spoke at the NRA convention this Friday amid heavy pushback after the Uvalde shooting. Also designated for “highly-trained teachers to discreetly conceal their firearms in school,”

It is not a new idea to train teachers, whose primary job is to teach students lessons in English and maths, as an extra security defense against school shooters. Such programs have been around for many years in many countries.

It is not clear that arming school personnel makes schools safer. School safety advocates warn against the potential dangers of encouraging teachers and other school personnel to carry guns at school. Increasing the number of guns in schools may increase the risk of gun-related harm, even if the guns were in the capable hands of trained educators. Studies also show a direct relationship between increased gun violence and the presence of guns.

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Teachers and school staff have not supported the idea of arming them. A survey of over 2,900 teachers in the US by a researcher from California State University revealed that 95.3% believed teachers shouldn’t be allowed to carry guns in the classroom. The largest US labor union, the National Education Association, has condemned the idea of arming teachers to stop school shootings in America.

Becky Pringle, NEA President, stated that adding guns to schools makes them more dangerous and does not protect our educators and students from gun violence. We need fewer guns in schools. Teachers should teach, not be armed security guards.

Nevertheless, the current debates about gun laws could accelerate legislation within states where teachers and school staff are already allowed — or encouraged — to have guns in the classroom.

In the US, hundreds of school personnel are already armed

Two high-profile school shootings, in Parkland, Florida, and Santa Fe in Texas, in 2018, saw at least 12 people killed or seriously injured. encouraged 34 state legislators and US territories to introduce legislation that would arm school personnel.

The National Conference of State Legislatures stated that there were more than 100 pieces of legislation that allowed for armed school teachers to be introduced by local legislators in the three years following the Parkland shootings. Although the majority of these bills were not passed into law, more than a third were introduced after the Parkland shootings. Florida and Texas are two of the nine states in which school staff (other security) is exempted from firearms bans at K-12 schools.

Texas Governor. Greg Abbott expanded Texas‘ school marshals program, which has allowed teachers and school administrators to get firearms training and a permit for them to carry guns on school grounds since 2013. According to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (which oversees the program), there are currently 256 school marshals in Texas.

In 2019, Florida Gov. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to run in 2020. He signed into law a bill allowing schools to arm teachers. This expands on an existing program that allowed school districts to work with local sheriffs to train their staff in firearms.

According to the Florida Department of Education’s website, 45 of the state’s 67 counties have taken part in the “guardians” program. Some have been to allow the state’s expansion of the program after the Uvalde school shooting last week.

In response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012, these firearms training programs were established for school staff. However, these programs have not proven to be effective in deterring gun violence. School shootings continue at alarming rates: more than 2600 mass shootings occurred since Sandy Hook.

Pro-gun legislators’ claims that teachers will be safer by being trained and equipped with guns are unsupported. A 2019 study of researchers from the University of Toledo, Ball State University, and others looked at 18 years of US school security measures. This included placing more armed teachers in schools. There was no evidence of a reduction in gun violence.

Denise Gottfredson is a criminologist at the University of Maryland. She called the policy of arming school personnel “ill-advised.” Gottfredson stated that firearms brought to school by teachers “might be accidentally fired, the teachers might use them for unintended reasons, and, even worse, they might end up in students’ hands.”

Research shows that more guns are associated with more violence

The USA is Not the only country where mass shootings have occurred, but it is the only one that has them.

Professor Adam Lankford from the University of Alabama analyzed global mass shooting data between 1966 and 2012. He found that 31% of those responsible were American.

After adjusting for variables Lankford also found a correlation between a country’s gun ownership and the likelihood of mass shootings. The US is in a unique position when it comes to gun ownership. Although the US makes up less than 5% of the global population, about 45% of world gun ownership is held by Americans. The US civilian population is thought to have 393,000,000 firearms, which means that there are more guns in civilian hands than people.

Numerous other studies show that guns do not deter crime, but rather increase the likelihood of gun-related violence. This means that more guns will lead to more gun violence. Harvard University and Boston Children’s Hospital found that firearm attacks were 6.8x more common for states with the highest number of guns than in those with the lowest. Research has also shown a strong association between firearm access at home and the possibility of residents being killed compared to those without guns.

Research on firearms and young children paints a darker picture. The Gun Violence Archive is a non-profit that tracks and publishes data on gun violence in the US. It reports that more than 650 children were killed by guns this year. More than 1,600 youths have sustained firearm-related injuries.

A recent study found that gun-related injuries are the leading cause of death for young Americans. This surpasses car accidents as the previous lead cause. The number of children who are killed by guns in the United States is 36.5x higher than in other countries such as Sweden, Austria, or England.

Even though there is so much data and research linking gun violence and firearm access, the US hasn’t seen much change in gun laws. History shows that firearms-related legislation has only become laxer despite public support for gun control legislation. This may be the largest outlier in the US’s gun violence epidemic.

Experts say a holistic approach is required to stop mass shootings.

The evidence shows that “hardening” school security measures, which focuses on increasing police presence and surveillance as well as arming school staff members with firearms, is not effective in reducing gun violence within US schools. These kinds of investments, which were the standard response to school shootings in the past, have been ineffective.

A study like that from the University of Toledo shows that schools have a multitude of problems in trying to keep their students safe. A multi-pronged approach is necessary if we want to improve school safety.

“It’s more than guns. It’s more than security,” Jagdish Khhubchandani (a co-author of the study), told The Texas Tribune. It’s a complex issue, and you won’t succeed if you try to tackle it one at a time.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in 2009, emphasizes the importance of improving “school connectivity” among adolescents. This basically means that students should feel connected to their school community, as this will improve student safety. According to the report, students who felt more connected to their schools were more likely to engage in healthy behavior and less likely to commit violence.

Anti-gun violence activists and researchers have advocated for reforms that go far beyond security guards and guns. Instead of arming teachers, schools could be given support to help them improve their students’ emotional well-being. This may be a better way to solve the nation’s school shooting crisis.

No matter what the next major debate about gun regulations will be it is clear that America’s current solutions to its gun problems have not worked and will not work.

While pro-gun legislators want to arm teachers with guns, there is little evidence that these programs work