News: Quick Takes

Poll: Majority of N.C. public school teachers don’t want to be armed

A majority of North Carolina public school teachers think carrying a gun in the classroom is a bad idea, a recent Elon University Poll shows.

The Elon University Poll, in concert with the News & Observer and Charlotte Observer, conducted a survey of public K-12 teachers about carrying guns in schools.

The survey was conducted between Feb. 28 and March 5 using telephones, cell phones, and emails to reach 379 respondents. For email only questions, the margin of error is plus or mius 6.6 percent and plus or minus 5.03 percent for all other questions.

“The people who would be most responsible for implementing any policy about arming teachers are the teachers themselves,” said Jason Husser, director of the Elon Poll and associate professor of political science. “We wanted to know not only if they think arming teachers is a good or bad idea, but also why they have the opinions they do.”

A little more than 78 percent of teachers think it’s a bad idea to arm teachers compared to 17.5 percent who think it is a good idea. Given the opportunity to carry a gun in school, 73.9 percent wouldn’t do so, compared to 15.5 percent who would.

Even if teachers were only allowed to carry guns under specific circumstances, such as requiring chosen teachers to undergo extensive firearm training and certification, 68.7 percent were still against the idea.

Respondents voiced several concerns about guns in the classroom, with 65 percent saying it would harm the learning environment. About 22 percent said it wouldn’t have an effect, but nearly 10 percent said it would have a positive effect.

Another concern was the possibility of guns falling into the wrong hands at school. About 68 percent said that scenario was likely to happen, compared to around 24 percent who said it was unlikely.

The only major variation in results fell along party lines, with 95 percent of Democrats and 78 percent of Independents saying it’s a bad idea to arm teachers. A smaller percentage of Republicans — 57 percent — also said it was a bad idea.

The poll also asked teachers about various gun-control measures, such as banning the sale of semi-automatic high-capacity rifles. About 77 percent supported that measure, while 13.7 percent did not. Nearly 100 percent of respondents favored ensuring background checks on all gun sales, with only 1 percent taking a neutral position.

After the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 people dead, the idea of arming teachers was floated as a school security measure. President Trump has voiced support for a portion of well-trained teachers being allowed to keep concealed weapons in schools as a deterrent against school shooters.

While Trump has suggested giving bonuses to armed teachers, Gov. Roy Cooper and state Superintendent Mark Johnson dismiss the idea.

Johnson sent out an informal survey on March 1 asking teachers for their opinions on being armed. Of the 22,444 teachers who responded, 65 percent said they don’t want to be armed, while about 25 percent said they would like to carry a firearm in school.