Reston, VA – NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti issued the following statement in response to the August 1 Federal Commission on School Safety meeting in Arkansas:
“Proposals to arm educators are borne of a desperate concern for the safety of students. As educators in rural Arkansas pointed out yesterday, delayed law-enforcement response to remote areas adds a layer of urgency to the concern. But arming educators is the too-simple default response to a complex issue that will put students at greater risk, not make them safer.
“The only gun in a school should be in the hands of a school resource officer (SRO), a law enforcement officer who is highly and specifically trained to work as a member of the school community both to protect the students and educators and contribute to overall school goals. And any policymaker—from Attorney General Jeff Sessions to the local school board—who advocates for arming school officials should both find the will and identify the resources to place an SRO in each school.”
The Case Against Arming Teachers
Consider the concrete realities of school shootings. They happen quickly — anywhere from 12 seconds to six minutes in incidents since 1997. We would be asking a teacher to quickly transition to SWAT member, arrive on the scene, assess the situation, overcome the severe nervousness that naturally accompanies a deadly-force incident, and take immediate action before blood is shed—including their own or their students’.
Meanwhile, schools would endure the daily risk that accompanies more guns in schools, as evidenced by the 30+ cases of accidental discharge of approved guns in schools since 2014. Not surprisingly, a leading school insurance company was aware of the risk when they refused to cover any Kansas schools that allowed teachers to carry firearms.
More broadly, however, the excessive hardening of schools compromises the very purpose of a school. Making the school a fortress only creates a fortress mentality for both teachers and students. Training teachers as SWAT members forces their focus to shift from a student’s potential for achievement to their potential for violence.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the leading organization of and voice for principals and other school leaders across the United States. NASSP seeks to transform education through school leadership, recognizing that the fulfillment of each student’s potential relies on great leaders in every school committed to the success of each student. Reflecting its long-standing commitment to student leadership development, NASSP administers the National Honor Society, National Junior Honor Society, National Elementary Honor Society, and National Student Council.