The Parkland shooting on February 14, where a gunman shot and killed 17 people in a high school, has spurred a new round of debate on gun legislation. One vocal proponent of more guns, rather than less, appears to be President Donald Trump, who has suggested in a listening session with Parkland students Wednesday that arming some teachers will help curtail school shootings.

His recommendation has led to contentious arguments about whether or not the U.S. should be arming its teachers. Current debate aside, some schools already allow their teachers to carry guns.

On the federal level, firearms are prohibited in school zones under the Gun-Free School Zones Act passed in 1990. The law stipulates that it’s illegal for anyone to wittingly possess a gun within 1,000 feet of a school.

But the legislation allows for some glaring exceptions. Most notably, the Act doesn’t apply to people with concealed carry permits. In the absence of this regulation, some states have also prohibited concealed carry weapons on school grounds.


According to the Giffords Law Center, ten states still allow concealed carry in schools.

Another big exception to the Gun-Free Zones Act is that adults can be allowed to carry firearms on school property with school permission. As of 2013, schools in 18 states had allowed adults to carry guns with some form of school approval.


Some states may create more formal procedures for allowing teachers to carry weapons. Kentucky, for example, is considering a law that would establish a marshal program to help teachers get a license to carry on campus. In Texas, 172 different districts already have similar programs.

At any rate, layers of redundancies and loopholes in existing legislation make the legality of teachers carrying guns in school a bit hazy. Stronger federal legislation, either for or against the policy, would go a long way in clearing up the debate.

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