Should teachers be armed in schools? Local teachers and experts weigh in

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RICHMOND, Va. -- Through interviews and tweets, President Donald Trump told the American people he felt a certain percentage of teachers and/or coaches should be armed with guns to deter school shooters.

"These people are cowards, they're not going to walk into a school if 20 percent of the teachers have guns. It may be 10 percent, it may be 40 percent," President Trump said.

He also suggested incentivizing the move.

"The people who do carry, we give them a bonus, we give them a little bit of a bonus," President Trump said.

Teachers in Central Virginia immediately reacted.

A Henrico teacher typed an open letter to every elected official saying she wants to see more counselors, school nurses, social workers and psychologists to help prevent a school shooting from happening in the first place.

But, a Chesterfield teacher seemed to agree with the President in a letter responding to the Henrico teacher's letter.

In it he wrote: "I have had a concealed carry permit for over forty-years. I have been trained, continue to practice with, and would willingly take more training with my firearm in an effort to protect my students in a much more immediate and effective way. Why am I denied that ability?"

But, William Pelfrey, an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at The Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at VCU, disagrees.

"Arming teachers is a bad idea for a lot of reasons," Pelfrey said.

He said the guns could end up being pulled out when they shouldn't be.

William Pelfrey

"If teachers have guns and there is a fight... that teacher might feel compelled to get involved in that fight and if they bring a gun to a fight, and then that gun gets taken from them or lost or they shoot a student then that is a huge a problem," Pelfrey said.

Or, a teacher could end up shot when the police arrive at a shooting scene.

He said prevention methods like anti-bullying programs should be focused on.

"Where both teachers and students learn about identifying students that are problematic who are prone to being victimized through bullying and then intervening before the bullying gets too bad and the student lashes out sometimes through violence," Pelfrey said.

He also said the Virginia General Assembly did consider legislation on arming teachers or requiring schools to have at least one person at the school armed, but the bills never passed.

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