A GOP Lawmaker Doesn't Want To Arm Teachers Because Most Of Them Are Women

by Seth Millstein

In response to the recent wave of school shootings, many Republican lawmakers have suggested that the best way to reduce gun violence in schools is to give teachers guns. Alabama state Rep. Harry Shiver isn't one of them, however: The Republican lawmaker said Thursday that the state shouldn't arm teachers, because "women are scared of guns."

"I'm not saying all [women], but in most schools, women are [the majority] of the teachers," Shiver told "Some of them just don't want to [be trained to possess firearms]. If they want to, then that's good. But most of them don't want to learn how to shoot like that and carry a gun."

Shiver initially voiced his position during a Public Safety Committee hearing earlier in the day when lawmakers were debating a bill that would allow certain teachers to undergo firearm training and carry guns on campus. He later reiterated his thoughts in an interview with

"Most women wouldn't like to be put in that position," Shiver said. "I know from South Alabama, they wouldn't."

A study of 2015-16 data found that 77 percent of public school teachers in America are women. Shiver's assertion that "women are scared of guns," however, does not square with the fact that, according to a 2017 Pew study, 22 percent of American women own guns.

Karen Ducey/Getty Images News/Getty Images

After 17 students were killed in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in February, many gun control advocates renewed their calls for stronger gun laws. On the other end, some supporters of gun rights suggested that America protect its students by giving weapons to teachers and other school officials. President Trump proposed arming teachers several times after the Parkland killings, while Florida legislators reacted to Parkland by passing a gun reform package that, among other things, will open the door for certain school employees to carry guns (though most teachers wouldn't be eligible).

However, several post-Parkland developments have cast doubt on the wisdom of placing armed adults on school campuses. Teachers unions came out against the idea shortly after Parkland, with National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia saying in a statement that "bringing more guns into our schools does nothing to protect our students and educators" from incidents like Parkland.

“Our students need more books, art and music programs, nurses and school counselors," Garcia said. "They do not need more guns in their classrooms.”

Furthermore, video footage released after the Parkland shooting showed that an armed sheriff's deputy was present on campus during the attack, but didn't enter the school or otherwise involve himself in the situation in any way after hearing gunfire. He has since resigned.

On Tuesday, there were two accidental school shootings, both of which involved teachers accidentally firing their guns. In one instance, the teacher in question, who is also a reserve police officer, was teaching a class on public safety when he accidentally discharged a semi-automatic weapon, injuring three students in the process.

In his comments Thursday, Shiver also voiced another objection to arming school teachers, one shared by other opponents of the idea: that police officers responding to a shooting might mistake a teacher with a gun for the assailant.

"When the highway patrolman bursts onto a site like that, they shoot the first one holding the gun out," Shiver said. They aren't told that person is qualified [to carry a firearm]. They don't know."

The National Association of School Resource Officers, which represents school police officers, expressed a similar concern after Parkland, noting in a statement that any "armed person who is not in a uniform" could easily be mistaken for an assailant by law enforcement.

Despite Shiver's objections, the Public Safety Committee passed the legislation to arm teachers. The bill will now heads to the full Alabama House of Representatives.