34 States Have A Path For Teachers To Carry Firearms. Should N.C. Be Next?

Laura Carno, executive director of FASTER Colorado, speaking at the Shaftesbury Society. Source: John Locke Foundation

By Donna King, Carolina Journal

As students head back to campus this month, school safety is a growing part of the equation facing administrators and parents.

In Madison County, N.C. Sheriff Buddy Harwood has announced that six schools in the county will have a locked up semi-automatic rifle along with ammunition and equipment to break through a barricaded door. The county school superintendent and county school board have been meeting with the sheriff’s office about the safety measures. The schools’ resource officers have undergone training at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College.

“I hate that we’ve come to a place in our nation where I’ve got to put a safe in our schools, and lock that safe up for my deputies to be able to acquire an AR-15. But, we can shut it off and say it won’t happen in Madison County, but we never know,” Harwood told the local Asheville Citizen Times.

In Ohio, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine recently signed HB 99, which allows individual school districts to decide whether or not they permit staff members to be armed on school grounds. It requires minimum training for people authorized to carry firearms in schools, mandating up to 24 hours of school-specific training.

Arming school staff members is a trend picking up steam, particularly in more rural areas, where police are too far away to stop the violence and save the injured.

“They are their own first responders,” saidLaura Carno of FASTER Colorado. “Rural school districts are the early adopters because they are often 30 minutes or more from law enforcement.”

FASTER Colorado offers intensive firearms and medical training for school staff members. Carno, the executive director, estimates that there are about 5,000-armed school staff on campuses across the country, but knowing exactly how many and where they are is kept very private.

In the most recent state budget, school safety will receive an additional recurring $15 million for the School Resource Officer Grant program, specifically for elementary and middle schools, and an additional $32 million for School Safety Grants to support students in crisis, school safety training, and safety equipment in schools.

However, those resources may only be one piece of a complex plan to ensure that schools are ready to save lives if the unimaginable school violence happens in N.C.

North Carolina does not allow firearms at school, even for staff members with the training and a lawful concealed carry permit off campus. But armed school staff programs are increasing in states that allow it. In 1990, the federal government passed the Gun Free School Zone Act , which makes it illegal to carry a firearm onto k-12 school property. FASTER has joined with other stakeholder groups to urge Congress to repeal it. Thirty-four states have passed laws making exceptions or exemptions to the federal law for trained staff members or volunteers who are part of a school security team.

“The first step that you need to look at is how do we in North Carolina move that law so that North Carolina children in school are as potentially safe as children in those other 34 states,” said Carno in a presentation to the Shaftesbury Society at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh on Monday.

Firearm training is one piece of an “all of the above” safety plan, according to Carno. Physical safety mechanisms, threat assessments, and the often-overlooked trauma medical training are also critical to saving lives.

“What happens if the unthinkable happens? Medics are ten minutes away, and people could bleed out if there is no trauma training,” said Carno. In the FASTER program, some staff volunteer to train on a firearm, but others volunteer for the trauma medical team if they don’t want to be armed.

“The training is very difficult, and not everybody passes, and we are ok with that,” she said.

In the wake of May’s shooting in Uvalde, Texas, a state probe uncovered “shortcomings and failures of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District and of various agencies and officers of law enforcement” that contributed to one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. The 77-page report said that the Robb Elementary School principal knew about security lapses at the school and did not address them. She has been reassigned. The Uvalde police chief is still on unpaid leave.

Carno’s goal is to put a much closer line of defense between the killer and the students.

Studies of past school shootings show that unarmed teachers and staff frequently sacrifice their own lives for those of the children in their schools.

“We can tell by every one of these shootings that people like coaches, teachers, counselors, principals, they run toward the sound of guns to protect children, unarmed, and they do this over and over. They have the mindset to save children,” Carno said, pointing out that teachers have a right to defend themselves and their students from a lethal threat.

“It is proper for us to consider the rights of those school staffers, who already have a tough job, they are teaching our kids, to protect kids and live,” she added.

However, not all teachers want to be armed. A study from Texas in the days after the Uvalde shooting found that 76% of Texas teachers would not want to be armed at school, but 90% of them are worried about a classroom shooter. Of the staffers participating in the FASTER training, only about 40% of them are teachers. The remaining 60% are administrators, coaches, bus drivers, custodians, or lunchroom staff. Most of those participants already had some firearms training.

The majority of police now support the effort. In a study from Police One, a law enforcement industry publication, 61% of police now say armed school staff will make children safer.

21 COMMENTS

    • Tell that to the psychopaths who gun down children then. Oh wait, they dont listen. Your gun free zone signs, they don’t work. Your police stand around while children are massacred wholesale infront of they’re parents, and then the parents are tazzed and beat to a pulp if they attempt to go in and save them. You may have forgotten about those babys in Uvalde already but I haven’t.

    • Not all teachers need to be armed… I agree with that. Because most of them have never been around guns or grew up hunting and lack the background needed to use a firearm in an emergency situation.
      Here in NC, many teachers were probably raised as sportsmen and have used firearms since an early age. THOSE teachers that have been around firearms for a long time and are well trained SHOULD get additional training for carrying a firearm in school.
      Teachers and students are sitting ducks and we live in a society where crazy people do horrible things on a daily basis. Making a statement that school is no place for guns is ignorant. The bad guys aren’t going to follow these rules!! That rule puts everyone in a school at risk.
      I am unsure what the protocol would be for having a teacher with a gun., but it needs to happen.
      Find 2-3 highly qualified teachers in each school that already have a lot of experience with firearms and let them have a fighting chance to protect the school in an emergency.

    • Mr cee is being a good liberal. He actually thinks school free signs work.. bet he believes in the Easter 🐇 too. Not all teachers should be armed because several are like mr ceee and would probably shoot themselves in the foot or other places I can’t mention. But having a couple of well trained teachers carrying concealed is almost mandatory now with the way things are. Notice I said well trained.

    • A good middle ground to this decision would be to encourage teachers to get their Concealed Cary permit and offer training courses for these situations. No public display of “We have an AR15 in a safe” or anything other than a warning that teachers COULD be concealed carrying a handgun. The cowards that shoot up schools or other locations pick “Gun Free Zones” because they are exactly that: cowards. They pick places that they are least likely to be shot back because they don’t want to die themselves. Give them reason to believe they’ll die and they likely won’t do it at all. No public display of firearms, no threats needed. Just the thought that someone could have a gun can deter more than people realize.

      • I agree with this idea. I’m liberal on a lot of issues, but I’m in full agreement of arming 2-3 teachers in the manner you’ve described. I think that’s reasonable.

  1. Yes!! Only teachers who have experience, concealed carry and are qualified should carry. Just like real world concealed carry holders you should have to be trained.

    The sheriff in Madison county also got it right by putting guns in a safe in the school just in case they are needed.

  2. Arm places that theses idiots target,and they will stay away.How many times do you hear of the idiots walking into a police station?

  3. We should let ANYONE carry a weapon at school: teachers, students, visitors, etc. It’s the only way to be 100% safe.

    • Tell the Truth.., I understand your desire for people to be safe.., but I do not think EVERYONE should be able to go into school armed. I don’t even think all teachers should be able to. I also don’t believe everyone that has a Concealed Carry permit should be able to. It takes a very level headed individual to control their emotions in an emergency situation and use a firearm safely.
      I do believe we need firearms in schools.., but it needs to be a very regulated environment. We don’t need to have a Wild West environment with everyone walking around with a gun.

      • @Concerned Teacher: Why should I (or anyone) surrender 2A rights at the school door? Tinker v. Des Moines ruled that we don’t give up 1A rights — why should my pistol be any different than my voice?

        As far as needing a “regulated environment”…. I’m trying to think of a single instance when *MORE* government regulation made things better?!?! True Conservatives want LESS government intrusion. If you want more government-butinskys, go live in a Socialist Lib fantasy world.

        • Unfortunately, not EVERYONE has the cognitive ability to know when to use/not use a firearm. We all have the constitutional right, but that doesn’t mean we all have enough sense to know how to properly use it. I have seen many people pass a Concealed Carry class and go purchase guns that had NO business with a gun. I am a strong proponent for the 2A! I have been a gun owner and hunter my entire life. I am also a teacher, who has insight to how schools function, but there are many people that don’t have the self control or the training to walk around with a gun… especially in a school!

          • @Concerned Teacher: There is no cognitive requirement attached to our constitutional rights. Heck, if you want to require all 2A exercisers to “have enough sense to know how to use it properly,” next you’ll want to return to IQ tests to exercise your right to vote! I know A LOT of people who vote solely based on name recognition or party affiliation, and don’t “have enough sense” to know the real issues or where the candidates actual record shows. Increased government restrictions ARE NEVER the right answer.

  4. I think it shouldn’t be allowed! I feel they need to hire more school officers and continue keeping the doors locked and show identification to enter!

    • With the LEO shortage where do you propose these school officers are going to appear from? School officers in Uvalde did nothing but stand around and listen to people being murdered for 77 minutes. Let qualified teachers carry and the teachers will make sure the shooter is taken care of quickly.

  5. Properly trained teachers should be allowed to have locked weapons in their rooms. So sad but if it will save one innocent life it should be an option.

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