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State Republicans Fortify Schools, Arm Teachers to Cut Mass Shootings

As mass shootings continue to affect school students, Republican-led state legislatures passed measures this session to fortify schools, create guidelines for active shooter drills and safety officer responses, and allow teachers to be armed, Stateline reported. The legislation pushed by GOP lawmakers in states such as Georgia, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah goes against the advice of gun safety advocates who remain concerned that having more guns in schools only further endangers children and educators. The Republican lawmakers say the solution to preventing school shootings is not banning certain weapons or taking away guns from potentially dangerous people, but rather empowering schools to respond quicklyto an active shooter. Last month, a little over a year after a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Tex., Republicans there passed a bill that requires an armed security guard at every school and compels school districts to adopt active shooter plans. In Mississippi, teachers can now, with extensive training, carry guns in schools under a new law. Republican state Sen. Jeff Tate, the sponsor, argued that assailants target schools because there often is no armed security. He hopes his bill makes potential school shooters think twice. “We need to make these people realize that, hey, look, there’s going to be a weapon if you go to the school,” Tate said. “That would deter these school shootings.”

Gun restriction advocates disagree with the idea of bringing firearms into a school environment to deter violence. Two decades of academic literature shows a minimal association between having school resource officers or security professionals in the building and the prevention of violence, said Justin Heinze of the National Center for School Safety, a training and technical assistance hub for evidence-based safety programs. “There is very, very little to next to no data that supports having firearms within schools are going to make those buildings safer,” said Heinze, on the University of Michigan public health faculty. He added, “I do have concerns about introducing even more firearms in the building because there is almost certainly going to be an increase in firearm-related injury.” Despite the high-profile nature of school shootings, schools are safe havens from gun violence, said Allison Anderman of the Giffords Law Center, a gun safety organization. This is largely because guns are mostly prohibited at schools, she said. Anderman said policies that can prevent school shootings include banning high-capacity magazines, waiting periods for gun purchases, and expanding red flag laws that take away firearms from people who may be a harm to themselves or others.


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