Gun violence is an epidemic that impacts every aspect of our nation’s daily life, including in our schools.

Since the Columbine shooting in 1999, there have been over 390 school shootings, killing at least 203 and injuring 441 students, educators, and other individuals on K-12 campuses. Approximately 59% were targeted shootings and over 12% were unintentional.

Since 1999, over

360,000 students

have experienced gun violence at school. However, it is important to acknowledge that school shootings disproportionately impact Black children. Although Black students account for nearly 17% of the student population in the U.S., 33% of students exposed to school shootings are Black.

Santa fe shooting mass shootings school sandy hook

Arming Teachers

Santa fe shooting mass shootings school sandy hook

In recent years following high-profile school shootings like Sandy Hook, Parkland, Uvalde, and Covenant, the gun industry and their allies have been calling for a common solution: arming teachers. However, there is little to no evidence that such a dramatic and polarizing idea would prevent future school shootings, and if anything, would make our schools more unsafe.

Myth: Good Teachers with a Gun Will Prevent a School Shooting

There is no evidence to suggest that arming teachers will keep children safe from gun violence. A 2021 study out of Hamline University found that there is no association between having armed guards or personnel on school grounds and deterrence of school shootings. Furthermore, only 1.2% of all active shooters between 2000 and 2019 were stopped by an armed bystander.

Another analysis raised a key flaw in the argument for arming teachers: teachers experiencing a mass shooting are unlikely to succeed in stopping assailants. It found that among regularly trained law enforcement officers, accuracy rates during active shooter situations range from 18% - 43%, which signifies far lower accuracy due to stress and anxiety in such encounters. If those who are thoroughly trained to stop active shooters have such low rates of success, how well would a teacher fare during a mass shooting?

Listen to the Teachers: 3-out-of-4 Oppose Guns in the Classroom

Additionally, teachers have made it clear that in their experience, guns do not belong in the classroom: 75% of K-12 teachers oppose being armed on school property.

The idea of arming teachers did not start among school officials as a way to protect their schools. It was first introduced in 2011 to the Nebraska State Legislature by then-State Senator Mark Christensen – who has strong ties to the NRA and other gun industry groups.

Despite gun industry cries, only 16 states explicitly prohibit teachers from carrying firearms in K-12 schools.

Additionally, 28 states allow teachers to carry firearms in K-12 schools to a varying degree – representing 51% of the U.S. population under the age of 18.

Examples of guns in schools have a failed track record of protecting students. The Covenant School in Nashville had some faculty members carrying firearms with them at school. These armed staff members did not stop the shooter that killed three students and three staff members. Additionally, in 2018, two armed resource officers at Santa Fe High School in Texas did not stop a gunman from killing 10 of his classmates.

Instead of focusing on arming teachers, we must focus on limiting youth access to firearms.

Although 76% of youth school shooters get their firearms from the home, 4.6 million children in the U.S. still live in homes with unlocked and loaded firearms. Furthermore, a 2023 Brady analysis found that 82% of students who brought guns to school between the 2017-2018 and the 2022-2023 academic years live in a state without a safe storage law.

Secure firearm storage is vitally important to ending students’ engagement with gun violence in schools. Children cannot legally purchase a firearm, but when guns are left unsecured in the home children can easily access these deadly weapons.

End Family Fire and ASK (Asking Saves Kids)

To improve the proportion of Americans who store their firearms safely, there must be an overhaul of public opinion to what we know to be true: Guns do not make us safer. Brady has been doing this work through End Family Fire and ASK (Asking Saves Kids).

  • End family fire

    End Family Fire

    End Family Fire is a movement to promote responsible gun ownership. In partnership with the AdCouncil, its mission is to encourage safe storage of firearms in the home. By securing firearms, rates of unintentional shootings, suicide, and firearm misuse can be greatly decreased – both in the home and in our nation’s schools.

    Learn More
  • ASK Logo

    ASK (Asking Saves Kids)

    ASK is an easy way to help keep our kids safe. Parents and guardians ask all sorts of questions before allowing their children to visit another home; they ask about pets, allergies, internet access, and supervision. As part of our End Family Fire program, ASK encourages parents and guardians to add one more question to this conversation: “Is there an unlocked gun where my child plays?”

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Make school safe

Schools should be a place of learning, not a warzone.

Make school safe

We must do more to keep our children and students safe. Through safe storage, ASKing about guns in the home, and stronger gun laws, we will let our kids just be kids.


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