Survey: Gun-Related School Lockdowns More Common

School doors closed
School doors closed | Image by VisualArtStudio/Getty Images

Newly released results from a teacher survey reflect diverging viewpoints on school security as shooting incidents reach an all-time high.

A survey conducted by the Pew Research Institute among over 2,500 public K-12 teachers last fall shows that nearly 1 in 4 have experienced a lockdown during the 2022-2023 term due to there being a gun or suspicion of a gun at their school. Mostly, these were one-offs, with 8% experiencing more than one such episode.

Such experiences were most common among high school teachers working in urban settings. Compared to their rural or suburban counterparts, urban school teachers were also less likely to be satisfied with the training they received from their employer for handling a potential active shooter — roughly 1 in 5 in the case of the latter compared to 1 in 3 in the former.

A shooting occurred last week at Dallas ISD’s Wilmer-Hutchins High School — one of several firearm-related incidents the district has seen in recent years, as covered by The Dallas Express. In the latest incident, a 17-year-old student was allegedly able to bring a gun onto campus despite the presence of metal detectors and a clear backpack policy. As the result of what police believe to have been a private dispute, the student allegedly shot another in the thigh, resulting in a non-life-threatening injury.

Although there is a statewide mandate for every public school campus to maintain an armed security guard or police officer, Dallas ISD has struggled to comply with the law, which was enacted last fall. The initiative came on the heels of the Uvalde school shooting tragedy in 2022. That year saw 51 school shootings resulting in injury or death, with this figure growing to 82 in 2023.

The Pew survey revealed that a higher share (36%) of teachers at schools with armed guards or police officers reported feeling that their school had done a great job at preparing them for a potential school shooting compared to those who did not (22%). Overall, while 60% of teachers nationwide felt schools were very well prepared to handle an active shooter situation, most felt at least a bit worried that day may come.

A considerable share of teachers (69%) agreed that improved mental health screening and care for children and adults would be “extremely or very effective” at preventing school shootings from happening in the first place.

However, there was considerable disagreement among teachers on specific issues depending on political affiliation. Interestingly, the Pew survey found that the impact of better mental health provisions was championed more by Democrats than by Republicans, with 73% of respondents finding them very effective compared to 66%, respectively.

Other divergences surrounded the presence of armed guards or police — with 37% of Democrat teachers saying it would prevent a school shooting compared to 69% of Republican teachers — and the use of metal detectors — with 27% of Democrats versus 43% of Republicans seeing it as an effective deterrent.

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