In the wake of the terrible school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, many have suggested that allowing teachers who have been trained in the use of firearms, and who choose to be armed, be added as a level of protection at schools throughout the U.S. Some Tennessee schools have armed Student Resource Officers (SROs) but many others rely upon unarmed security officers or have no security on site at all.
A recent Tennessee Star poll by Triton Research, which conducted an automated poll of 607 likely voters in Davidson County over a two day period April 12-13, 2018, asked respondents:
Do you support or oppose allowing teachers who have a permit to carry a gun being allowed to have their gun with them at school if they wish, after they have had some additional training and certification?
Davidson County self-identified “likely voters” opposed arming teachers by a 54.6% to 38.8% margin, with 6.6% undecided. However, there was a clear distinction between the views of Republican and Democrat voters on the issue.
Republicans SUPPORTED allowing trained and certified teachers to be armed on school campuses by 74% to 19%. 7% were undecided. Democrats OPPOSED the idea by a margin of 80.3% to 12.3%. Another 7.4% were undecided.
The division of opinion among Independents was closer, with 57.8% opposed to arming teachers while 38.7 were supportive.
During a recent debate in West Tennessee among GOP candidates for Governor, Diane Black and Bill Lee immediately endorsed the idea of arming teachers in Tennessee schools.
Randy Boyd was hesitant, preferring a voluntary approach and seeking other options beyond arming teachers. Boyd also cited the need for better mental health treatment to deal with the root causes of school violence.
Bill Lee provided the most definitive response, noting: “We protect our nation and our nation’s leaders with firearms, yet we leave our children in gun-free zones. That doesn’t make sense to me.”
A bill that would have allowed some teachers in counties in Tennessee to be armed sponsored by Rep. David Byrd (R- Waynesboro) failed by a voice vote in committee earlier this month.