WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. teachers are much more likely to see restrictions
on gun ownership as the best way to prevent school shootings over any
other approach. Asked in an open-ended format what could be done to prevent
U.S. school shootings, 33% mention stricter gun laws, 22% say a ban on
assault weapons or other types of guns, and 10% say stricter background
checks on gun purchases. About one in five teachers mention better funding
for mental health services and another 6% say to make more mental health
resources available in schools. Fifteen percent see improved school security
as the best way to prevent shootings.
Teachers Are Most Likely to Mention Gun Control as the Way to Prevent School Shootings
In your opinion, what is one thing that could be done to prevent school
shootings from occurring in the United States? [OPEN-ENDED]
Stricter gun laws / Gun control
Ban assault weapons, certain types of guns
Funding for better mental health care / More effective services available
More security at schools / Bulletproof doors, windows / Armed guards
Stricter background / Mental health checks before purchase of firearms
Arm staff, teachers
More resources, funding for teachers, psychologists, counselors
No "one thing" / Can't prevent school shootings
Better parenting / More parental involvement / Breakdown of family
Limit exposure to violent entertainment / video games / TV / movies
Less media coverage of shootings / Do not glorify the shooter
More respect for others / More religion / Better morals
Give schools more autonomy / Less government control
More discipline / Accountability for students
Building relationships with and between students / Get to know students better
Better follow-up / Communication on suspicious actions / "If you see
something say something"
Repeal the Second Amendment / Get rid of guns
Disband the National Rifle Association
Improve data sharing between agencies (Police, FBI, schools)
Smaller class size / Better teacher to student ratio
U.S. Teacher poll, March 5-12, 2018; Percentages total more than 100% due
to multiple mentions
The recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, one of the deadliest in
U.S. history, has reignited the debate about how best to protect students,
teachers and staff from future tragedies. On Tuesday, another school shooting
took place at a Maryland high school. Relatively few teachers express
a great deal of confidence in their
school's ability to handle such an event.
In addition to suggestions related to gun laws, mental health policies
and school security, other solutions teachers offered focused on addressing
larger societal problems such as poor parenting, a lack of discipline
and morality, exposure to violent media, and media coverage of school
shooters. Four percent of teachers say there is nothing that can be done
to prevent school shootings.
Seven percent of teachers mention arming teachers with guns as a solution,
an idea President Donald Trump and others who object to stricter gun laws
have promoted. A separate question in the survey found
73% of teachers are opposed to arming teachers. Eighteen percent of teachers say they would be willing to carry a gun
in school if their district adopted that policy.
Teachers' preference for steps aimed at gun control could reflect their
partisanship more than their profession. Roughly twice as many teachers
identify as Democrats or say they are Democratic-leaning independents
than identify as Republicans or lean Republican. Democrats are much more
likely to favor gun restrictions than Republicans are.
These results are based on web interviews with U.S. teachers of grades
kindergarten through 12 who are members of Gallup's national panel.
The Gallup Panel recruits members using random sampling methods. The sample
of 497 teachers is weighted to be representative of U.S. teachers nationwide.
Interviews were completed between March 5 and 12.
Teachers Rate Gun Restrictions as Most Effective at Preventing Shootings
Consistent with their responses to the open-ended question, teachers rate
restrictions on gun ownership as being more effective at preventing school
shootings than other proposals. Of nine proposals tested in the survey,
the two ideas that teachers deem most effective are requiring background
checks for all gun purchases and banning the sale of the AR-15 and other
semi-automatic assault weapons. Fifty-seven percent of teachers say each
would be "very effective" in preventing school shootings.
A third proposal -- banning bump stocks or other mechanisms to convert
ordinary guns into automatic weapons -- also surpasses the majority level,
with 52% saying such a step would be very effective. Teachers are somewhat
less likely to think a fourth gun restriction -- raising the legal age
to purchase guns -- would be a very effective way to reduce school shootings,
with 45% holding that view.
Teachers Believe Various Proposals Designed to Toughen Gun Laws Would Be
Most Effective in Preventing School Shootings
Below is a list of other proposals to reduce the frequency and severity
of school shootings. Please rate how effective you think each of the following
would be in preventing school shootings.
Not too effective
Not effective at all
Requiring background checks for all gun sales
Banning the sale of the AR-15 and other semi-automatic assault weapons
Banning "bump stocks" or other mechanisms that can convert ordinary
guns into automatic weapons
Instituting new programs to identify, assess and manage students who may
pose a threat
Raising the age at which people can purchase certain firearms
Increasing training for police officers and first responders on how to
respond to active shootings
Installing more security checkpoints and security systems for allowing
people into schools
Increasing the number of school security personnel at schools
Instituting federal programs to help schools develop emergency response plans
U.S. Teacher poll, March 5-12, 2018
Substantial minorities of teachers think programs initiated in the larger
community would be effective. These include instituting new programs to
identify, assess and manage students who may pose a threat (48%) and increasing
training for police officers and first responders about how to respond
to active shootings (41%).
Teachers are least inclined to think that modifying security procedures
at schools is a viable means of preventing school shootings. Between 21%
and 33% think installing more security checkpoints at schools, increasing
the number of school security personnel at schools and instituting federal
programs to help schools develop emergency response plans would be very
separate question in the survey found 13% of teachers say that allowing certain teachers
to carry guns would be "very effective in limiting the number of
victims if a school shooting were to occur."
Earlier this month, Gallup asked U.S. adults to assess how effective many of the same proposals
would be. Both U.S. adults and teachers rank background checks at the
top of the list, though U.S. adults are more inclined to think this step
would be a very effective way to prevent school shootings, 70% vs. 57%.
Teachers are much less likely than U.S. adults to think increased training
for first responders (41% vs. 60%) and installing more security checkpoints
and systems (33% vs. 54%) would be very effective. Teachers are slightly
more optimistic than U.S. adults that banning automatic weapons would
be very effective, 57% vs. 48%.
The two groups hold similar attitudes on developing programs to identify
and manage students who may pose threats and raising the age limit for
The Parkland school shooting has given rise to student activism to prevent
school shootings, with students across the country calling for changes
to U.S. gun laws. Teachers seem to agree with that approach, as they are
more likely to believe tighter restrictions on gun ownership would be
the most effective way to prevent future school shootings compared with
other possible solutions. These beliefs may well be influenced by teachers'
Democratic political leanings.
After the Parkland tragedy, the state of Florida passed gun control measures
as part of its school safety legislation, including a ban on bump stocks
and an increase in the legal age to purchase rifles and shotguns. The
National Rifle Association has challenged those provisions in court.
President Barack Obama's efforts to change U.S. gun laws after the
Sandy Hook school shooting stalled in 2013. More recently, the U.S. House
of Representatives passed legislation last week to address school safety,
but that bill left out proposals related to changing gun laws.
Results are based on a Gallup Panel web study completed by 497 national
adults, aged 18 and older, who teach K-12 students in the U.S. The survey
was conducted March 5-12, 2018. The Gallup Panel is a probability-based
longitudinal panel of U.S. adults who are selected using random-digit-dial
(RDD) phone interviews that cover landlines and cellphones. Address-based
sampling methods are also used to recruit panel members. The Gallup Panel
is not an opt-in panel and members are not given incentives for participating.
For results based on this sample, one can say that the maximum margin
of sampling error is ±7 percentage points, at the 95% confidence
level. Margins of error are higher for subsamples. In addition to sampling
error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys
can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.