Employees carrying guns is dangerous and not an evidence-based way for schools to prevent gun violence. Safety in schools starts with safety in the community. School leaders — including school boards, superintendents, principals and teachers — should voice their support for gun violence prevention laws with state and federal policymakers.
Some other examples of effective policies to prevent gun violence in schools, from Everytown Research and Policy:
- Extreme risk laws. This policy empowers family members, law enforcement, and, in some states, educators, to get a civil court order to temporarily prevent a person from accessing guns.
- Secure storage and child access prevention laws. Schools should provide secure storage information to parents.
- Raising the minimum age to purchase all semiautomatic firearms to 21.
- Requiring background checks on all gun sales can prevent teenagers and prohibited persons from taking advantage of the background checks loophole, which allows them to buy a firearm online or at a gun show with no background check.
- Schools must create a safe and affirming school climate for all students.
- Identify students at risk to themselves or others by establishing resources such as anonymous tip lines or social media monitoring, to identify potential threats. These programs can be effective at identifying students at risk of self-harm. Still, they must uphold student civil rights and ensure there is not a disproportionate impact on historically marginalized students.
- Access control: Measures like single-access points, fencing or external door locks that prevent unauthorized access to schools.
- Interior door locks: Interior door locks enable educators to lock out shooters and seal classrooms without exposing themselves to danger by stepping into hallways and the line of fire.
- Schools should establish clear emergency plans.
Schools should also invest in school-based mental health services by hiring a sufficient number of psychologists, social workers, nurses, and counselors to work in schools. The average school counselor has 500 students under their care and is so overburdened with academics and testing, they aren’t able to offer behavioral health services students may need.
More guns doesn’t equal less death. According to Everytown Research and Policy, “One study examined 179 shootings on school grounds from April 1999 through May 2018 and found that, generally, SROs —law enforcement professionals — did not make a difference in preventing deaths or injuries.”
Parents, please join me in opposing this dangerous and misguided policy. There are better ways to keep our children safe.
Rebecca Hoeffner Smith received her master’s in journalism from the University of North Texas in 2010. She has worked in Tyler as a journalist and for various local nonprofits since. Her passions are public health research, Zumba, British period dramas and her house of all boys. She is married to Stewart Smith with whom she shares a son, Dean, and a neurotic poodle mix, Remy.
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