Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Criminal-justice prof says studies show arming teachers is less effective than other measures against school shootings

"Arming teachers to protect against school shootings is likely less effective than other safety measures, including laws that hold gun owners responsible when minors get a hold of negligently stored firearms," says a research review written for the public-policy research arm of the State University of New Yorkreports Route Fifty.

The notion of arming teachers has gained popularity, especially in rural areas where gun ownership is higher and many schools fear they're too far away for law enforcement to reach in time. But there is little if any research to support the idea. "While no data exist to support the assertion that the presence of armed individuals has been or would be successful in stopping school shootings, there is evidence that indicates such a policy would fail to meet its intended goals," Jaclyn Schildkraut, a criminal-justice professor at SUNY Oswego, writes for the the Rockefeller Institute of Government

On the belief that an average civilian would be less accurate with a firearm than a law-enforcement officer, Schildkraut examined research that studied officers' accuracy rates in firearm discharges. A two-decade study found that officers' bullets hit their targets around 20 percent of the time, a figure that remained steady despite improvements in weaponry and training. Another study of New York City officers involved in active-shooter incidents found that the officers' accuracy was 30 percent when no one was shooting back at them, and 18 percent when someone was.

A person's ability to accurately fire a gun during a stressful situation may be hampered by the body's physical response to stress, even after training, Schildkraut writes: "Civilians receive considerably less firearms training in general as compared to law enforcement officers and such instruction does not typically include stress-inducing simulations. Thus, it is conceivable that their accuracy rate during a shooting would be considerably lower, even if they were to receive more extensive training." Also, if civilians have guns during an active-shooter situation, police responders have to spend extra time trying to figure out who is the shooter and who is an armed bystander, Schildkraut notes.

Research shows that civilians have had greater success in ending active-shooter situations without using a firearm, Schildkraut writes: "In sum, the evidence suggests that arming teachers (and other civilians) not only could fail to deter a school shooter, it potentially could make these events more lethal."

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