- 73% of teachers oppose teachers and staff carrying guns in schools
- 58% say carrying guns in schools would make schools less safe
- 18% would be willing to carry a gun in school buildings
This story is part of a special series on U.S. teachers' views of carrying guns and school safety.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Arming teachers and school staff as a way to handle the United States' problem with school shootings will be a tough sell to those who would have to carry it out -- teachers across the nation.
Nearly three-quarters of U.S. school teachers oppose the idea of training certain teachers and staff to carry guns in school buildings. Nearly six in 10 teachers think it would make schools less safe, and about seven in 10 teachers think carrying guns would not effectively limit the number of victims in the event of a shooting.
These findings are based on a nationally representative online Gallup Panel survey of 497 U.S. school teachers in grades K-12. Gallup Panel teachers with web access were invited to take the survey online March 5-12, less than one month after the Feb. 14 shooting at a high school Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead and 17 injured.
President Donald Trump has been the most visible proponent of the idea of arming teachers. The National Rifle Association also advocates for this policy, often using the slogan: "To stop a bad guy with a gun, it takes a good guy with a gun." In the case of school shootings, Trump and the NRA believe the "good guys" are teachers and staff members, and the president has repeatedly endorsed the idea of instituting special gun training in schools in recent weeks.
For the most part, teachers across the country do not agree with the proposal, and they dispute two of the main reasons for arming teachers: that it would make schools safer and limit casualties during a shooting.
While 73% of teachers oppose special training to arm them in school, 20% strongly or somewhat favor it and 7% are neutral.
Likewise, while 58% of teachers think arming them and their colleagues would make schools less safe, 20% think it would make schools safer and 22% do not think it would make any difference.
Twenty-nine percent of teachers think that arming teachers would be very or somewhat effective in limiting the number of victims of a school shooting, while 71% say it would not be effective.
Recent Gallup research shows that 42% of Americans nationwide favor special training to arm teachers and school staff while other proposals, including background checks for all gun sales and better active shooter training for first responders, have nearly unanimous support from the public. Arming teachers was the only proposal tested that did not receive majority approval from the public.
One in Five U.S. Teachers Willing to Carry Gun in School
Gallup asked the teachers surveyed if they would be willing to go through special training, if their administration allowed it, so they could carry a gun in school buildings. Eighteen percent of teachers said they would apply for the training and 82% would not. One-quarter of all teachers said they currently own a gun, and they were four times as likely as those who do not to say they were willing to be trained to carry a gun in school.
Of the 18% of teachers who were willing to undergo special training to carry a gun at school, two-thirds are very confident that they would be able to effectively handle the gun in a live shooting situation and one-quarter are somewhat confident, presumably because they already own a gun.
As lawmakers around the country debate proposals to reduce gun violence, many ideas have been suggested. A law recently passed in Florida allows certain staff members to carry guns on a case-by-case basis, with needed approval from the school district and the local sheriff. Gallup's data suggest that the roughly one in five teachers nationwide who are willing to carry guns in schools might soon be able to do so if they live in certain states and school districts. Still, it remains to be seen whether the majority of teachers who oppose this idea would agree to teach in a school where teachers are permitted to carry guns.
Results are based on a Gallup Panel web study completed by 497 national adults, aged 18 and older, who teach K-12 students in the U.S. The survey was conducted March 5-12, 2018. The Gallup Panel is a probability-based longitudinal panel of U.S. adults who are selected using random-digit-dial (RDD) phone interviews that cover landlines and cellphones. Address-based sampling methods are also used to recruit panel members. The Gallup Panel is not an opt-in panel and members are not given incentives for participating. For results based on this sample, one can say that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±7 percentage points, at the 95% confidence level. Margins of error are higher for subsamples. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
Learn more about how the Gallup Panel works.