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Top 5 Things to Consider When Arming Teachers for School Safety

Kelly Moore
February 15, 2024

One of the most frequent questions I get from educators is, what do you think about arming teachers? This is often the first question I get when I meet teachers and education professionals. Before I answer this question, it might be helpful to remind people of my background. I am a 34-year veteran of a medium-sized sheriff’s office in Southern California. I had always dreamed of working in law enforcement and worked most of my life accomplishing that goal.

So, when I got the opportunity to fulfill my dream of becoming a peace officer, I was fully aware of the need and requirement to carry a firearm as part of my chosen career. This is the perspective I bring to this discussion. Many people on both sides of the discussion will like and dislike my opinion. Let the following serve as the starting point for the discussion you want with those around you. This should not be construed as a final argument for a decision you must make.

So here goes the answer to the question that so many people want me to answer: As with many other aspects of school safety, the answer to this question depends on many factors and variables. I am neither in favor of nor against arming teachers for the purpose of school safety. Let me expand on my answer to break down some issues and better understand what arming teachers means to school safety.

When I started my career, as is the same with every peace officer before me, since I started and since I retired, we understood the importance of carrying a firearm as a critical piece of equipment to accomplish our primary purpose, protecting others. We understood the importance of becoming and maintaining proficiency with that equipment. We were required to qualify with our weapons every quarter and to attend training regularly. We underwent scenario-based training and learned to make the best decisions based on our information.

With all of these requirements and mandates, we still had those who struggled with their proficiency and only put in minimal effort to maintain their ability to carry a firearm during the course of their duties. Even when it was a requirement for them to work, meaning if they didn’t qualify, they couldn’t work. This is with people who knew it was a requirement to have the ability to carry a firearm. Let’s put that into a school environment where no teacher or educator got into their profession knowing they would be required to carry a firearm. Deciding to arm teachers is much more than just putting firearms in schools. One should consider many factors before deciding whether to arm your staff.

Here are the top 5 things to consider when thinking about arming your teachers:

  1. Do the laws in your area allow it?

  2. Do you have policies for an extensive program of arming your teachers?

  3. What additional liabilities does this program bring to your organization, and are those liabilities acceptable?

  4. How are the firearms to be stored during school hours?

  5. What are the minimum requirements that must be met for someone to participate?
    1. Training and certification
    2. Continuing education
    3. Understanding the legal aspects of using a firearm to protect themselves and others?
    4. Qualifications
    5. Psychological exams? (Not everyone who wants to arm themselves should)
    6. Who is responsible for the financial impacts of the program? (training, the weapons, ammunition, holsters, ballistic vests, liability insurance, negligence, etc.)

Additional (and just as important) things to consider:

  • Is everyone going to be required to participate in this program?

  • If someone chooses to participate in this program, what support will they need since many others will not like their decision to arm themselves?

  • Do the expectations of the organization and those who are armed align with each other?

  • Do you also implement “less than lethal options?”

  • What about de-escalation training?

  • What happens after any discharge of a weapon on campus? (this includes all possible scenarios— justified to accidental or negligent discharges.)

  • Who is responsible for administering this program in your organization?

  • Plus, many other potentially controversial considerations

There is insufficient space to articulate all of the considerations in this blog. Can arming teachers keep your schools safer? Yes, if done correctly. However, if done incorrectly, it can have a catastrophic outcome. Arming teachers is not the solution. It may be part of the solution, but creates many other problems. I neither support the arming of teachers nor do I advocate against arming them. Whichever way you decide, just make sure it is the correct decision for you and your organization.

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