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School districts across America consider arming teachers in aftermath of Nashville school shooting

A month after six people died in the Nashville school shooting, districts across the country are considering arming staff members, but critics worry it will cause more harm than good.

Since the beginning of 2023, there have been over 120 school shooting incidents across America, according to the K-12 School Shooting Database. Last year marked the most incidents on record in American schools, causing many to worry about how to stop the record-breaking trend from continuing.

One month after an active shooter killed six at the Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, school security consultants reported many districts reconsider their safety plans in the wake of another shooting. For some, that involves discussions surrounding more guns on campuses.

In Spirit Lake, Iowa, the school board voted in late November 2022 to allow 10 non-teaching staff members to carry a handgun on campus – a policy that went into effect after staff completed hours of training with Peterson Firearms Training.

"When people drop their kids off at our school, they expect them to come home safely," Spirit Lake Superintendent David Smith said. "And with the rise in violence in schools, you know, you have to really think outside the box."

Smith agrees that when he started as a superintendent in Spirit Lake 13 years ago, he never thought he would be discussing arming school staff, but he says times have changed. 


"If we can get there within 30 seconds and get them distracted to somebody else other than our students and our staff, we have a great chance to minimize loss," Smith said.

There are 10 non-teaching staff spread throughout their three campuses. Fox News Digital spoke with one of the staff members who wanted to remain anonymous for security reasons.

"Unfortunately, evil exists and if an evil person enters a school trying to harm innocent people, this is really the only solution that immediately addresses that situation," they said.

Right now, 32 states allow teachers or school staff to carry with restrictions. A Fox News poll from August 2022 shows that 48% of people favor arming teachers.


Fox research shows that most state departments of education and public safety do not track how many school districts allow armed staff. Most directed media inquiries to local school districts, and some states have hundreds of districts.

In Ohio, a bill that allows teachers to carry firearms on school grounds went into effect in September 2022. The Ohio Department of Public Safety reported that 29 out of 611 school districts currently allow armed staff.

In Florida, the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program was established in 2018 after the Parkland High School shooting. The program, which was named after a school staff member who was killed protecting Parkland students, allows district school boards to vote to implement a guardian program. The county sheriff is then responsible for establishing the program and training personnel.

The Florida Department of Education said Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr., has encouraged all school districts to participate in the program since he took office in June 2022. So far, 46 out of 69 school districts have voted to allow staff to carry guns.

Lee County, Florida, is considering arming school staff members, but some parents aren’t convinced it's a good idea. At a school board meeting on March 7, 2023, a handful of parents and school employees sounded off against the program.

Dr. Maryann Wilbur, who has two kids in the school district, said she has never spoken at a school board meeting until now.

"The chances of an unintentional firearm death of a child is exponentially higher than the chances that an armed assailant is actually taken down," Wilbur said.

A teacher who has been in the district for 23 years and now has children in the district said, "I’m here to ask you, please vote down arming more people on school campuses."


School security consultant Craig Gundry said there is a benefit to having armed protection already on campus.

"Effectively, protecting schools really requires a multi-level approach, slowing the bad guy down and simultaneously improving response time narrows the gap and allows for a faster intervention thus reducing potential casualties," Gundry said.

However, a 2021 University of Albany study showed that while school resource officers do reduce some violence, they do not prevent school shootings.

Some school districts decide to arm staff because they don’t have enough funding for school resource officers – and some don’t have school resource officers at all.

In Hot Springs, Arkansas, Superintendent of Cutter Morning Star Public Schools Nancy Anderson said they have had armed staffers for the past 11 years.

"This is not for everyone, every district, people don’t feel comfortable, but for our district this works," Anderson stated.

In Arkansas, a 2017 law prevents the state Department of Public Safety from releasing school security information, so it’s hard to know exactly how many schools have armed staff. Anderson guessed the percentage may be closer to half of the school districts now.

"For me, I had no options because I didn’t have the funding. So, I had to look at other opportunities to keep my kids safe," Anderson said.

Right now, only 16 states prohibit teachers from carrying a firearm.

A Mississippi bill that would allow armed, trained teachers in schools is waiting for approval from the governor.

There’s currently another bill in the Tennessee House and Senate that would allow public school staff the right to carry a concealed handgun. At the moment, only private schools and distressed rural counties allow staff to carry.

Gundy said the subject of armed teachers comes up a lot in his work with schools, but very few follow through with adopting the idea. Part of that is because many insurance companies will refuse to provide coverage if guns are allowed in the classroom.

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