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'Arming teachers is not the answer': Survey finds most Texas educators do not want to be armed

Of the 5, 100 survey responses, 77% of respondents do not want to be armed to confront a shooter in their schools.

TEXAS, USA — Following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School, school safety is on the mind of state leaders. In addition to better securing buildings, some Republican lawmakers are calling for more teachers to have concealed firearms. 

Earlier this month, Governor Greg Abbott sent a letter to Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath, in part directing the agency to "develop strategies to increase the presence of trained law enforcement officers and school marshals on campuses."

Texas' school Marshal Program allows staff to carry firearms on campus after completing an 80 hour training and psychological exam.

The Texas Tribune reports 84 school districts out of more than 1,200 have armed school staff through the Marshal Program.

Northeast ISD middle school teacher and former president of the Northeast Education Association, Adonis Shurmann, said firearm training and certification would only add another thing to teachers' plates. 

"We have mandatory in-services that we have to do for health concerns, we have mandatory suicide trainings that we have to attend, mandatory 504’s mandatory special-ed training, there’s no reason to add another 80 hours," Shurmann said. 

Overall, she does not believe arming teachers is the answer. A survey from The Texas American Federation (TAFT) shows she is not alone in that feeling. 

The statewide teachers union received 5,100 survey responses in just six days about school safety and the impacts the Robb Elementary School shooting has on educators. The respondents consisted of Texas K-12 school employees, higher-education employees, parents, and community leaders. 

Of the 5,100 respondents, 77% said they do not want to be armed to confront a shooter in their schools. 

"I hear from members that call me on the phone or they email me 'How do they expect me to pay for weapons training or even buy a gun or keep it clean or keep up with it, they can't even pay for school supplies in my classroom," said Zeph Capo, President of TAFT.

Other survey responses in regards to gun reform included: 

  • 99%—supporting comprehensive background checks required for purchases from all gun sellers.
  • 98%—supporting “red flag warnings” that can stop people going through extreme emotional or mental health issues from buying or using guns.
  • 96%—supporting raising the minimum age for all legal gun purchases to 21.
  • 83%—supporting a ban on assault weapons.
  • 82%—supporting more rigorous secure storage laws so our kids can’t access guns at their homes or friends’ homes.
  • Only 3% did not want any of these measures.

Instead, Shurmann believes schools should receive more funding to have school resource officers on each campus, more training for district police, and better security systems in schools. 

She commended NEISD's proxy card system, which only allows people with access to a card to scan through doors. 

"Arm your schools with the funding they need, don’t arm them with weapons," she said. 

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