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Teachers in Texas and South Dakota Show Little Interest in Carrying Guns in School

Arm the teachers! cry the gun nuts who can’t face the fact that guns (and the normalization of guns and mass murder) are part of the problem, not the solution to violence in America. But Texas and South Dakota have both had programs to train and certify school staff to carry guns in school since 2013, and very few educators have shown interest in this deadly proposition. Texas has 327,000 teachers; fewer than 0.1% of them have signed on to Texas’s killer-teacher program:

But Texas, a state with a fabled gun culture, has allowed teachers to sign up as campus “marshals” since 2013 through a program signed into law after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. The initiative has seen fewer than 300 educators sign up across 62 school districts, according to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, even after some restrictions around the program were loosened following a deadly 2018 mass shooting at a Houston-area high school [Juan Perez, Jr., “Arming Teachers Is Hard, Even in Gun-Loving Texas,” Politico, 2022.05.27].

South Dakota also responded to the Sandy Hook murders by passing a similar school gunslinger law in 2013. This counterproductive bill drew little interest from the start. There’s so little interest now that the state canceled this year’s school gunslinger training:

And despite the heightened conversation around school safety and gun control because of the tragedy, a school sentinel training planned for this summer in South Dakota has been canceled “due to a lack of interest,” said Timothy Bormann, chief of staff in the attorney general’s office said.

…Bormann explained since only a single-digit number of educators signed up for the training, it isn’t cost-effective or adequate to have the class.

Five districts have taken part in the 80-hour training program throughout the course of the program since it started in 2013, he said, training a total of 20 school staff members across the state. Only eight of those trainees are currently active as school sentinels across the state, Bormann said, refusing to specify which districts had training.

The Tri-Valley School District became the first to go through the required state training for the program in 2016, three years after the state passed its school sentinel law in March 2013. Northwestern Area School District had approved a policy allowing staff members and volunteers to become sentinels shortly after Tri-Valley did.

Frederick Area School District, Oglala Lakota County schools, Lake Preston School District, Northwestern and Tri-Valley had all participated in the program, as of 2018 [Morgan Matzen, “Here’s Why South Dakota’s Program to Arm School Employees Was Canceled for the Summer,” Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 2022.06.01].

That single digit may have been 4: SDAR 2:01:16:04 sets the minimum class size for school gunslinger training at 5. Nearly 10,000 teachers in the state, plus paraprofessionals, administrators, support staff, and not even five of them want to train to pack heat and kill armed intruders at school.

Only five districts out of 149 have sent staff for gunslinger training, and those five do not include Harrisburg, the only school district in South Dakota to experience a shooting in this century. And remember: the only person shot in that incident, the principal of Harrisburg High School, said arming school staff is unnecessary and ineffective.

The National Education Association agrees with the overwhelming majority of teachers in South Dakota and Texas—guns are a dangerous distraction from real solutions to murder and violence:

Our public schools should be the safest places for students and educators, yet the gunshots from a lone shooter armed with a military-grade weapon shattered the physical safety of the school community in Uvalde, Texas. The powerful gun lobby and their allies did not waste a second after the horrific killing of 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School to call for arming teachers. Bringing more guns into schools makes schools more dangerous and does nothing to shield our students and educators from gun violence. We need fewer guns in schools, not more. Teachers should be teaching, not acting as armed security guards.

We need common-sense solutions now. Schools need more mental health professionals, not pistols; teachers need more resources, not revolvers. Arming teachers makes schools more dangerous and does nothing to protect students and their families when they go off to school, shop at the grocery store, attend church services, ride the subway, or simply walk down the streets of their neighborhoods. Those lawmakers pushing to arm teachers and fortify school buildings are simply trying to distract us from their failure to prevent another mass shooting.

Educators and parents overwhelmingly reject the idea of arming school staff. Rather than arming educators with guns, we need to be giving them the tools needed to inspire their students. Rather than putting the responsibility on individual teachers, our elected leaders need to pass laws that protect children from gun violence and bring an end to senseless and preventable killings. Americans want the carnage to stop. My message to Congress: What are you waiting for? [NEA President Becky Pringle, press release, 2022.05.25]

Let’s hope South Dakota’s school gunslinger program remains dead for lack of interest.


  1. mike from iowa 2022-06-05 09:16

    We need common-sense solutions now. Perxactly what you don’t get out of magat politicians!

  2. Jake 2022-06-05 09:41

    MFI-sadly, it seems that “Common Sense” flees the conversation on gun violence as soon as those that make the money off its existence steps into the conversation-each time! Our Senator Mike Rounds campaigned carrying the motto “SD Common Sense”, easily winning a senate seat with the help of some big, big $$$, But, after gaining the seat, left the “Common Sense” in the parking lot and took the $$$. He and John Thune together couldn’t come up with a plan to keep guns illegal or scarce, only in their own presence. Protecting themselves and their power is the goal of the politician today; service to the people is down the list away.

  3. O 2022-06-05 11:36

    When it comes to schools, our MAGA GOP is more interested in banning ideas than banning guns. To them, potential ideas are more dangerous than gun violence.

  4. leslie 2022-06-05 12:34

    “senator?” “mocking” Mike Rounds: “come and take my guns away, Joe Biden—oh and my dig bites too!”

    what a fool

    what was Rounds thinking, during those 73 minutes in Uvalde?

  5. mike from iowa 2022-06-05 12:42

    Jake, WJC said as much back in 2013 in an interview with Piers Morgan (less than 2 minute clip). I thought I had posted it a few days ago, but it never showed up.

  6. larry kurtz 2022-06-05 12:48

    Republicans are all about dissolving the Department of Education, privatizing schools and letting christianic religionists indoctrinate students.

    President Jimmy Carter created the modern Department of Education amidst the howls from Republicans who renounce the decision to integrate schools to the present day. Ronald Reagan moved to kill the Department of Education and when Republican Newt Gingrich was Speaker of the House he was all about getting rid of DoE, too. Then came No Child Left Behind and a DoE budget that exceeds $70 billion annually.

    Now, police unions get the cash and teachers’ unions get the shaft.

    Recall Republican former South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds won election to the US Senate for advocating the dissolution of the US Department of Education and in 2015 the state’s legislature passed a resolution to abolish it.

    The Trump Organization was simply the latest obstacle to public education because it hates people of color and social equity, too. Add it all up: Rupert Murdoch, a a not-so-closeted racist himself, the Kochs, JBS, the Council for National Policy, the National Rifle Association, Fox News, Tucker Carlson, their attacks on public education and the “Great Replacement.”

  7. leslie 2022-06-05 12:57

    rounds dances around “common sense” wondering “are we going to take away an 18 year old’s ‘right’ to buy an M-4 or M-5 (assault weapon), when he can carry one in the military?”

    common sense says there is a BIG difference! Come on! well regulated! the military heavily regulates when an 18 year old has a loaded weapon.

  8. P. Aitch 2022-06-05 13:02

    Uvalde showed the world that an unarmed teacher has more courage than a Texas sheriff with a truckload of Washington paid for weaponry.
    Texas isn’t what Texans brag about.
    Their “gun culture” is really just a “cowardice culture”. and SD is surely the same way.

  9. All Mammal 2022-06-05 13:50

    Amen, a woman.

    They say they love freedom. You have no freedom without thought.
    They say they love America. Then forced me to watch her get shot.
    The dream wasn’t told to me. It was sold to me.
    They say, “No way. Not in America.”
    Then why is it still spelled with a triple K, your Amerikkka?
    The brotherhood walks the streets, armed to the teeth. A brother holds his palms flat on the street, still turned to a sieve.
    They call it justified homicide. It wasn’t their kind thats died. They say it on tv, so it must be believed.
    They say they want me to succeed while they watch me bleed. How can I trust what they say, Amerikkka with an AK loaded with FMJ?
    They tell me to just say no when I’m walking to school. While they stand on the corner and prescribe me a death tool.
    They give me the hollow point seeds and tell me reap what I sow. Unfortunately for me that means pine boxes and life on death row.
    They vow to protect something that can’t even breathe life. But won’t look at bequeathed mothers, betrothed as Misery’s new wife.
    Girls possess nothing, our bodies taken from last night’s maraud. They still won’t look at the mothers screaming curses at God.
    They claim they are true patriots and bleed red white and blue. Yet when she calls, they send ME to stain my hands red to prove that I’m true.
    They wave signs emblazoned, “Vote for me” and, “I am not a crook”. They leave nothing good left, consuming it all like a warm air chinook.
    They tell me I must pay my own way. They toss me the bill after their play and stay.
    “Roll up those sleeves” I hear as I’m hoisting by my boot straps. I asked the teacher if they were lying. She said, “Perhaps”.
    Teacher asked me to write out my thoughts. She did her job wrong by teaching kids, not robots.
    They gave her a pink slip once they read what I said: They say it stands for liberty. But my country was never ‘tis of thee.
    No way. Not my Amerikkka.

  10. Jake 2022-06-05 14:57

    ahhhh, Leslie; Good!!!!

  11. Arlo Blundt 2022-06-05 17:30

    Leslie…listened to Senator Rounds mouth the NRA talking points. Stupid, mercenary, and deadly. The Senator apparently loves the status quo. He’s hopelessly confused. No thought process engaged. Thanks for the link.

  12. Anne 2022-06-05 17:44

    After Columbine, police were assigned to schools on a regular basis. My son and daughter were in high school, when my husband and I were asked to attend a special parents’ conference. It turned out that the police had developed a friendly relationship with the students, who invented a game they called “liberating the fuzz.” They could earn points in the game by disarming the police of their pistols and tasers. The kids playing this were not the troubled kids, but were the class leaders, including the son of a ranking judicial official. They invented elaborate distractions so that they could create a situation in which they could snatch away police equipment and earn points. For example, a billy club, 1 point; a radio, 2 points; hand cuffs, 3 points; taser, 4 points; pistol, 5 points.

    The school and the police were terribly embarrassed, and the special conference never made it into the press. The upshot was the making of rules against “bothering” the police when they were on duty and disciplining the children if they touched any police equipment. The chief of police told the assembled parents that the incidents showed how dangerous it was to have weapons on a campus and how difficult it is to keep them out of the hands of kids who were always looking for ways to break the routine,

  13. leslie 2022-06-06 18:56

    Sunday morning Sens.Toomey (R), Murphey (D) spoke to either what 50 repubs and one dem (Manchin) will put together this coming week, or 60-70 senators will be willing to vote for a mux of upgraded gun, mental health, age and red flag federal regulations/laws, and/or state implementation assistance, but not bans on assault weapons or high capacity magazines, or contrary to the second amendment. The Democrat was more optimistic than the (despite his un-primary-challenged efforts since 2013, 15, 17 etc) Republican senator.

    We shall see if Rounds and Thune come over to the compromise, if any next week (incidently the week Jan 6 violent sedition hearings commence, to bring account for where Republicans succeeded in turning over peaceful transition of presidential power!)

  14. Arlo Blundt 2023-06-25 15:21

    Lauren Boebert has bill in the hopper to make the AR-15 USA ‘s official weapon…as in the pasque is our official flower….one positive is that no bill introduced by Boebert has ever become law.

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