Christian County (Mo.) Sheriff Joey Kyle has had several conversations with school districts in his county regarding armed teachers in the classroom. KYTV reports Kyle cited response time by authorities in the event of an armed person invading a school. He said it would take up to 20 minutes for police or sheriff's deputies to get to some rural areas of the county. In that span of time, lives could be lost. Because of the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., Kyle believes arming teachers is one solution. Some school administrators showed concerns about the possibility.
What did Kyle say about how teachers should be armed?
The sheriff believes arming teachers is the "only way ... to fight fire," according to KYTV. He believes teachers should become more familiar with weapons thanks to more specialized training. Kyle claims it is the "appropriate application of force" that can diffuse mass tragedies.
How is arming teachers in line with the state's thinking?
A Springfield News-Leader piece on Kyle's meeting with area school administrators sheds light on what the sheriff wants to do. The newspaper states the elected official told school leaders, "We have an opportunity to set the course for the entire state with how we approach this. … It's not about arming teachers. It's about ... a mindset [as to] ... how is your staff going to respond to a violent act that's occurring in your school?"
What measures are schools already taking to prevent tragedies?
Schools in Nixa and Clever, Mo., already undergo preparedness drills. Kyle believes expanded gun training for teachers may be necessary, even in more urban settings where response times could be seven to 12 minutes. The sheriff suggests 40 hours of initial training with annual training to follow up. Larger cities such as Nixa and Ozark already have their own police force that could respond sooner than sheriff's deputies.
What have school administrators said in response to Kyle's assertions?
Nixa School District Superintendent Stephen Kleinsmith told the News-Leader, "I just don't see our board in the near future going to issuing out permission to arm employees, but that could be wrong as the research and reflection on the given issue is not complete."
Clever School District Superintendent Dr. Richard Henson told KYTV, "I think teachers are wired differently. I'm not saying there's not some, with proper training, could be good school defenders. Teachers make good teachers ... . People who come here to top threats are trained and wired to stop threats."
What about Missouri's actions and laws on gun control?
Missouri law states the governing bodies of schools can consent to allow staff to be armed under Missouri's concealed weapons law. The Associated Press notes Republicans in the Missouri General Assembly, who currently have a supermajority to override gubernatorial vetoes, want to lower the age of concealed weapons permits from 23 to 19. Another bill sponsored by Republicans wants to give teachers permission to be armed regardless of the decisions of a school board. The state's GOP also wants to nullify any possible federal legislation that could limit the right to bear arms.
William Browning is a research librarian specializing in U.S. politics.
- Politics & Government