Should Teachers Be Armed with Guns? Our Community of Teachers & Students Share Their Perspectives

While there are so many careers out there for English majors, the stereotype of an English major wanting to become a teacher is partially true for a reason—many English majors do, in fact, become teachers. (It can be a wonderful career, and to be clear, we love and support those who want to become teachers!) 

That being said, the recent debate over whether or not teachers should be armed in schools is highly relevant to those who follow Dear English Major. We are followed and supported by many teachers, students with plans to teach one day, and of course, students. Who better to weigh in on the national debate over arming teachers? 

In February 2018, we surveyed the Dear English Major audience. Students and teachers weighed in, and here are their responses to each question: 


If you are currently a teacher, do you support arming teachers with guns? Why or why not?

"Yes. I believe that properly trained, concealed carry individuals can act as a three prong solution to school shootings. First, a perpetrator may be more hesitant to attack a campus where they know they will meet resistance. Second, because there is no way a perpetrator would know who is armed, they couldn't target a specific person to neutralize them. Third, meeting a shooter with force is the most effective way to stop an attack."

-Kathleen Reiman, Community College English Teacher with 3 years of experience

"As a younger college instructor, I do not support arming teachers with guns. Teachers across all levels of education often already struggle to get the resources they need to do their job effectively, schools already face lay-offs and program cuts, and universities continue to raise tuition costs year after year. By arming teachers, the costs of guns, training, and licensure would all be added expenditures. This is not to even mention the potential safety risks involved in such a decision. Perhaps more importantly, though, the idea of arming teachers conflicts with my personal views on what my role is as a teacher in the first place. My job is to educate, support, and inspire my students, not to serve as their warden. While I would certainly do everything I could to protect my students if an active shooter situation were to arise on campus, I do not think putting guns into our schools is the way to go about trying to solve this issue."

-Anonymous, Adjunct English Professor from Ohio

"My goodness! I can’t keep up with projector remote and someone thinks I could have a gun in my classroom. My degree in theatre and English covered some stage combat but not real firearms. I stepped off the stage last week. I stapled my sleeve to the bulletin board. I locked my keys in my cabinet. Do not give me a gun."

-K. Lille, Educator since ‘93

"I do not support arming teachers. I am a Republican and a gun owner, but do not feel comfortable carrying a gun on campus. There are too many risks involved in firing a weapon in a classroom setting. My classrooms are crowded with students and have concrete block walls. It would be easy for a misfired bullet to ricochet and hit an innocent student. Pistols are also very inaccurate in the best of circumstances. I am a good shot with a pistol when the target is still and I have time to aim and adjust for variables. If I were scared, the target was moving, and I had no time to perfect my aim, again, innocent students could be hurt. Thankfully my classroom door locks and is very solid and sturdy. As long as I can lock the door, no one can get in to harm me or my students. I do carry mace in my purse in case I face a dangerous situation with a student, but I envisioned that being for close contact in an office setting, not a mass shooting situation."

-Lucy Marsden, College Instructor with 10 years of experience and former crime reporter

"Yes! If they choose, have tenure in the classroom, pass psychological evaluation, and training comparable to federal marshals. It is already my job to protect kids with my life, whether that is explicitly state or not. Allow me to do so effectively. Outside of their family, nobody loves kids more than teachers and nobody will work harder to protect them."

-Valerie Wilmot, 8th Grade Teacher with 11 years of experience

"I absolutely do NOT support guns in the classroom! Teachers already wear so many hats—educator, counselor, mandated abuse reporter, data analyst, grant writer, coach, club advisor, parental figure, and more—and now the public wants to add psychologist, first responder, sniper, and human shield to the list. No. I did not become a teacher so I could be required to shoot one of my own students after they didn’t receive the mental health support they needed from a guidance department that was underfunded and stretched too thin to stop this before it started. Arm teachers with more support, more supplies, and more pay so that we can take care of our kids properly, not shoot them after the system fails them."

-L.B., AP English Literature Teacher

"As a last resort, I would consider it. But only after better fencing was installed, more security hired, student to teacher/counselor ratio improved, and more secure entry/exit points created. There are probably a dozen practical safety steps that could be taken before a teacher would need a weapon. That said, I’d trust myself, but there are so many other factors that more weapons (even in well-trained hands) could only cause more trouble."

-Adam DeClercq, High School English/ELD Teacher-13 Years of Experience

"Absolutely not. School is meant to be a safe place and encourage children to learn. If teachers bring a gun into the classroom, how is that any safer than a shooter bringing one in? Also, especially when in a special education class, a gun would be an even greater danger than it already is. Guns do not belong anywhere near a school."

-Alaura Filbin, Autism Paraeducator in California

"No. Violence is never the answer. #armmewith flexible seating and PBL!"

-Marcee Garland, Social Studies/ELA Teacher

"I do not support arming teachers for several reasons:
1.) A big part of the job is building relationships with kids and having teachers carry weapons could prevent or hinder that.
2.) There are crazy adults and some of them work in education. No matter how much you train or educate, you cannot tell what other people are thinking until it's too late. I, personally, would not feel comfortable sending my own kids to school each day with armed adults I barely know.
3.) There are measures we haven't tried. Matching adult mentors with students, installing metal detectors, instituting home visits by teachers to their student's home, etc. Giving guns to teachers is an unthoughtful, knee jerk reaction to a very complex issue."

-Megan Kirby, High School English Teacher from Kentucky

"I think a teacher should be permitted to arm themselves if they so choose. If they are willing to take on the responsibility of carrying a loaded weapon in hopes of defending themselves and/or their students, the district should sponsor trips to the shooting range, gun safety courses, and hands-on active shooter training."

-Emma Liles, 9th Grade English Teacher From Texas with 2 years of experience

"No. I graduated from the Naval Academy and was qualified on the m16 rifle and m9 pistol, but I would NEVER consider having a weapon as a teacher. There are too many requirements teachers have to meet anyway. There are too many meetings, and too many trainings to ask them to become qualified and adept with firearms. Not to mention high school students are always going through teachers’ desks and personal belongings, it would be very difficult to keep a firearm hidden enough that the students couldn’t get to it when the teacher runs to the bathroom or to make a few more copies, but not so hidden that it’s easily accessible if it’s needed."

-Mariellen Gero, 9th & 10th Grade English Teacher and Former Naval Officer

"No, it’s a terrible idea. In cases where an armed bystander has been present a a shooting, they haven’t been able to stop the shooting or save lives. And deadly weapons simply should not be present in any educational context; there should never be a chance that someone could get shot for saying what they think in class."

-Anonymous, College Professor for 20+ years

"No. We should be focused on teaching. We should not have to be worried about using a gun."

-Kim George, Associate Professor of English

"No. We already take on so many jobs without further compensation, we don't need to take up the job of security guards too. Hire specially trained armed security guards if it is truly necessary, such as former military. It's ridiculous to put that burden on teachers. I think better building security is needed instead. Secure entrances and exists. Secure the perimeter. It's too easy to get into some schools."

-Anonymous, High School English Teacher, Texas, 5 years of experience

"While I want every one of my students to be safe in school, I do not believe training and arming teachers is the solution. I teach in an inner city school, and most of my students witness weapons-related violence every day. The best way to protect my students would be to provide them with safer neighborhoods, social and mental health services, and quality educational supports that give my students the same chances in life as their suburban peers. Give teachers the real tools they need: relevant curriculum, equal access to technology and digital resources, and freedom from mandated standardization of instruction and assessments. Give teachers support staff that includes sufficient numbers of social workers, psychologists, counselors, and health care professionals. Fund music, art, and vocational programs for students instead of funding self defense weapons training for teachers. Solving the problem of school shootings requires more than a 'quick fix' solution."

-Debrah Davidson, High School English Teacher in Detroit with 30 years of experience

"Good Lord, it’s a terrible idea! I’m as qualified to carry a gun as the average Green Beret is to teach AP Lit. And the science teacher down the hall that wants a guy- I don’t think so could trust him. We won’t cover his hall duty. With my budget cut each year yet more asked of me—I don’t think I’ll make be sticking around for any of my retirement if guns are an option on my campus."

-Anonymous, Teacher who started in ‘93

"No. Working in a 'rough' school comes with many more challenges than I am able to handle. We have had recent threats of violence from students who are bigger and able to overpower me if they wanted. By arming, you’re suggesting I kill a student who I do care about."

-Anonymous, First Year Teacher with many years of teacher aide experience

"No, I do not support arming teachers at school. I am an ex-US Army infantryman. I currently own guns, and enjoy target shooting in my personal time. I think arming school staff is an absolutely insane idea. Use your imagination for just a second. You're a teacher with maybe several hours of gun training., and have a gun with you at school. A shooter comes to your school and starts slaughtering students and coworkers. You're terrified, unable to think very clearly, and your students are panicking and running around in several directions at once. Meanwhile, the shooter is calmly carrying out his plan, and is completely unconcerned about his own life. What do you think will happen if you take out your gun?"

-Sven Tice, Middle School Teacher

If you are considering teaching as a career, do you support arming teachers with guns? Would teachers being armed or not being armed affect your decision to pursue a career in education?

"Absolutely not—it makes the workplace a more dangerous place to be."

-Rita Williamson, Former GED Community College GED Instructor

"I don’t believe guns have a place in schools. Schools are supposed to be the safest place for anyone to be. Also, I’m not signing up to be a first responder, which is what that situation feels like. Shoutout to the first responders, but that’s not what I want to do. I want to make a difference in students lives, and I feel like arming teachers makes that much harder."

-Christina, Secondary Education Major Sophomore

"I support education in my work, and arming myself or those around me feels completely antithetical to my mission and purpose."

-Kelly H., Communications Manager for State Education Agency

"It would absolutely make me quit teaching forever or never become a teacher. Unfortunately, part of the job description is now “willingness to die for someone else’s kid.” I have accepted that, but I never signed up to shoot anybody. If I wanted to be trained for combat, I would enlist."

-Erinn Klein, College Senior and soon-to-be grad student and then teacher

"No. Trained US Marshalls and Secret Service agents don't reach 100% accuracy and efficiency under fire. U.S. warfighters deployed in urban environments cannot always limit lateral casualties when firing in proximity to noncombatants. Teachers should not be armed."

-Darren Singh, Former English Major Transitioned to U.S. Army Officer

"When I become a college professor, I would like to be able to carry a firearm for the defense of myself and others. Should this not be acceptable when the time comes, yes, it would absolutely determine my employment as an educator. I believe in the freedom to defend yourself as you see fit, and carrying a firearm is how I choose to do so. I, also, believe in defending those who can't defend themselves. This includes handicapped students who may be in my classroom. I feel obligated to defend and protect them, perhaps more so than students who are physically capable of protecting themselves."

-Brenna Carnevale, College Student, Mother, Navy Veteran

"No. I don't fear guns; I grew up with them. I also know that in high stress situations, even a veteran gun owner can miss a target, and often do. There's no evidence to support that an armed teacher would prevent an attack more than campus security, classroom support, better district funding, increased counseling resources, and smaller class sizes. Not to mention the liability of having a gun fall into a student's hands would be HUGE!"

-Melissa Selleys, English MA 1st Year

"I considered a career in teaching, and taught one glorious semester as an adjunct, and may go back to it some day. As stated above, I do not support the idea. Would it affect my desire to return to education? Maybe, but more likely I'd seek a district or school or state that does not arm teachers, knowing that I'd rather not be surrounded by poorly trained* and gun-toting teachers.

*I feel like I can say they'd be poorly trained for a number of reasons, but one among them: I was responsible for weapons training onboard a US Navy ship, and even with lots of time and money, there were still sailors who I'd rather not give a gun. Cut that training and time in half and half again and that would be the average armed teacher."

-Travis Klempan, Grad Student

"As a future teacher, I am against arming teachers. It is impractical and unsafe not to mention incredibly expensive and that money would be much better used on supplies and salaries. This issue will not impact my decision to pursue a career in education as it is something I have worked my whole life for but it will impact the politicians I vote for. I want schools to be safe and I will only vote for those who believe in a safe, strong public education system."

-Anonymous, Sophomore Childhood Education and English Double Major

"If I become a teacher, and upon being hired I'm handed a gun, I'm leaving that job. Not because I'm afraid of training with guns or using guns, but because if I'm a teacher, guns are not and should not be a part of my job. I want to believe that I would stand my ground if I were a teacher and someone threatened my students. But if that were to happen, then there's a bigger problem at play, and my having a gun isn't even a quick fix for it."

-Anonymous, English Major, College Senior, and Peer Tutor

"I am considering becoming a professor. It is a completely different situation than being in a public school, but I will say that deciding to switch from English education to English had a lot to do with expectations of teachers. A teacher should not be required to arm themselves and do everything else expected of them."

-Mallory Jones, English Major Junior at IUK

If you are a current student do you support arming teachers with guns? Why or why not? 

"As a college student, I would not be comfortable if my professor had a gun in class. There’s a time and a place for guns, and the classroom is not one of them."

-Christina, Secondary Education Major Sophomore

"Absolutely not. The classroom needs to remain a sanctuary, as it is the only place that some kids feel safe. But for all kids, the safe learning environment must be upheld in order to have learning and arming teachers is simply inviting weaponry and violence into the classroom."

-Erinn Klein, College Senior and soon-to-be grad student and then teacher

"I absolutely support arming our teachers. Too often we lose wonderful teachers because they paid the ultimate price for their students. Why should they have to give their lives for the stupidity of someone else? Arming our teachers gives them one more opportunity to stop the threat, before the threat stops them AND their students. Yes, this applies to college professors as well. I believe that if you're a teacher/professor, your first obligation is to your students, and sometimes that includes physically protecting them from harm."

-Brenna Carnevale, College Student, Mother, Navy Veteran

"No. I would need more than 200 words to do this justice, but here goes:
-Who pays for the guns? What does it say that our government is more willing to shell out for arming teachers than for textbooks or school supplies?
-Who pays for the ongoing training? How do teachers fit this into their already crammed schedules?
-Does this improve safety? Anywhere? Any data to support?
-What does a school do about a teacher who wants to carry but is clearly incapable of it? Is the school infringing on his rights?
I could go on, but bottom line: this does not make the schools any safer, so why do it?"

-Travis Klempan, Grad Student

"I do not support arming teachers with guns. There are signs outside schools designating them as gun free zones as a reason. Arming teachers is impractical, unsafe and not the right choice. We need less guns not more."

-Anonymous, Sophomore Childhood Education and English Double Major

"I do not support arming teachers. Teachers are not paid enough to be teachers, and they are not paid enough to fill the other roles society tacitly expects them to fill. It's absurd to ask any more of our teachers, particularly if it's expecting them to be willing to lay down their lives and take others. If we want armed security guards in schools, then we should hire armed security guards for schools."

-Anonymous, English Major, College Senior, and Peer Tutor

"I do not support arming teachers with guns. I am afraid of all of the things that could possibly go wrong and do not want the classroom to become militarized."

-Mallory Jones, English Major Junior at IUK

"I do not support arming teachers. I think it is counterintuitive to the issue at hand, and I doubt the government will want to fund it anyway, since they do not seem to value our education system. While I do understand why some may support this idea, I think that increasing school security and restricting assault weapons would be a much more effective solution, and will also make the students feel safer than having all of their teachers carry guns."

-Anonymous, Sophomore English Major at NAU

Posted on March 15, 2018 and filed under Articles, Featured Articles.