Why Trump’s idea to arm teachers may miss the mark

By Aimee Huff and Michelle Barnhart

Published 27 February 2018

President Donald Trump’s proposal to arm teachers has sparked substantial public debate. As researchers of consumer culture and lead authors of a recent study of how Americans use and view firearms for self-defense, we argue that while carrying a gun may reduce the risk of being powerless during an , it also introduces substantial and overlooked risks to the carrier and others. Despite the widespread news coverage of shootings at schools, the reality is that school shootings are still a rare occurrence. In an FBI study of 160 active shooter incidents that FBI identified between 2000 and 2013, 27 – or about 17 percent – occurred at elementary, middle, and high schools. Given that rarity, the of effectively using a gun to neutralize a shooter without taking additional lives, and added day-to-day risks, we argue that Trump’s proposal would not be effective in making schools safer overall for teachers or students.

President Donald Trump’s proposal to arm teachers has sparked substantial public debate.

As researchers of consumer culture and lead authors of a recent study of how Americans use and view firearms for self-defense, we argue that while carrying a gun may reduce the risk of being powerless during an attack, it also introduces substantial and overlooked risks to the carrier and others.

Where bullets land
One of the biggest risks involved with arming teachers would be missing the target – literally. Despite the fact that police must undergo extensive professional training, particularly for high-pressure situations, one study notes that police involved in gunfights shoot with an accuracy rate of just 18 percent.

Assuming teachers can achieve the same level of accuracy as police, and that an armed teacher were able to get into position to fire, just one in five or six bullets would hit the shooter. The other four or five bullets would hit something or someone else. While an armed and trained teacher may be able to stop a shooter, the teacher may also shoot an innocent person.

Why might they miss the target?
Our recent study about people who keep and use handguns for self-defense can help to explain why someone using a gun against an attacker has difficulty hitting their target.

Over 24 months, the research team monitored 6,879 threads in four online discussion forums focused on armed self-defense. One author completed concealed handgun license training. Two contributing authors attended the annual NRA convention. The lead authors attended two gun shows, and interviewed two police officers and nine civilians who keep and/or carry handguns for self-defense.



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