As the Democratic executive branch of Virginia strengthened their opposition to Lee County’s proposal to arm teachers to ensure the safety of students amid a national trend of school shootings, the measure is also mirrored in Washington, D.C., as nearly every member of the Democratic minority in the Senate has prodded Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her department to abandon any plans to provide public funding to give firearms to schoolteachers.
In a letter signed by 44 Senate Democrats, it says that “Teachers and other school staff should be focused on providing instruction, engaging families, and providing students with the skills and supports they need to succeed in the workforce and in life, not on managing and potentially responding to threats with deadly force,” as reported by Roll Call.
“In fact, a recent poll showed that the overwhelming majority of educators do not want to be armed, and instead many believe social emotional learning, mental health supports, and increased wraparound services and funding are a more effective way to keep students safe,” it went on to read.
In March, a Gallup poll revealed that 73 percent of teachers oppose teachers and staff carrying guns in schools, with 58 percent saying that carrying guns in schools would make schools less safe. Moreover, less than one in five teachers claimed that they would be willing to carry a gun in school buildings.
When it comes to the public perception of arming teachers, the letter may reference a PDK International poll, with two-thirds of respondents saying they do not want their child in classroom with an armed teacher. Along party lines, 57 percent of Republicans are in favor of arming educators, versus 39 percent of independents and 17 percent of Democrats.
In the House of Representatives, 173 out 193 Democratic members sent a similar letter to DeVos, which was prompted by Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-3).
“Congressional opposition to the implementation of federal funds for guns in schools is not open to interpretation,” the letter read. “In authorizing the STOP School Violence Act in the aftermath of the Parkland, FL school shooting, Congress acted to prohibit program funds from being used for the purchase of firearms or firearms training,” it added.
Referencing back to the PDK poll, there was some common ground among political affiliations. A large majority of parents favor armed police in schools. As well, metal detectors were also popular across party lines, and mental health screening of all students was supported by at least three out of four polled.