Teachers union survey shows school employees overwhelmingly (77%) do not want to be armed

Educators instead support legislation on gun access


CONTACT: Rob D’Amico, 512-627-1343, rdamico@texasaft.org

A new survey of Texas school employees released today shows that 77% of respondents do not want to be armed to confront a shooter in their schools. 

The Texas AFT survey of 5,100 Texas K-12 school employees, higher-ed employees, parents, and community leaders was conducted in the week after the deadly shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde. The results were released today at a virtual news conference.

“Trying to arm teachers is risky and counterproductive,” said Texas AFT President Zeph Capo. “Teachers can’t be expected to become highly-trained law enforcement officers and use guns in a crisis without endangering students or themselves.” 

The survey also revealed that 90% of Texas school employees have worried about a shooting happening at their school, and 42% said the Uvalde shooting may affect their decision to return to school. (A previous Texas AFT survey in the fall reported that 66% of teachers were considering leaving the profession—with low pay and overwork being the top reasons why.)

“The Uvalde shooting has added another layer—outright fear—to the reasons why teachers are questioning their profession,” Capo said.  “They know that they would put themselves in the line of fire to save their students, and they also know that more guns inside schools are not the answer.”

“I have spoken to teachers across the country, and they are horrified at the thought of arming teachers and adding more guns to campus,” said Sarah Lerner, a teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Lerner, a survivor of the Parkland shooting, co-founded Teachers Unify to End Gun Violence, a national group of educators speaking to the need for sensible gun legislation.

When asked what measures school employees would support to stop gun violence, respondents overwhelmingly supported legislation focusing on access to guns, including:

  • 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.

Almost all respondents (96%) said more public education funding would also help prevent violence. In addition to pushing for more mental health support in schools, Texas AFT is calling for more counselors to at least meet the recommended guidelines of one counselor for every 250 students. Funding also would support safety enhancements for school facilities.

“If our current leaders will not act, we must elect new ones in November,” Capo said. We must vote out any candidate or elected official who says they support public education but refuse to act against the murder of our schoolchildren and teachers.”

Texas American Federation of Teachers represents some 65,000 teachers, paraprofessionals, support personnel, and higher-education employees across the state. Texas AFT is affiliated with the 1.7-million-member American Federation of Teachers and AFL-CIO.