School Safety: Guns in Schools

Benjamin Erwin 3/8/2019

Firearms remain at the center of the school safety debate as gun control and the prospect of arming school personnel garner national attention. Although it is only a small fraction of the school safety discussion, states continue to examine K-12 firearms statutes. The vast majority of states generally prohibit firearms in K-12 schools; however, almost all make some exception to their laws. The table below captures state statutes allowing and prohibiting firearms on K-12 grounds.

 

Guns in Schools

Which States Allow Firearms on K-12 School Grounds?

 

POLICY STATES

Anyone with permission from school authority

19 States: Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, LouisianaMassachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, OhioOklahomaOregon, Texas, Utah and Vermont

Concealed carry license holders

CC permit alone: Alabama, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah

CC permit and permission from school authority: Idaho, Indiana, Missouri

School employees (other than security)

CC permit and permission from school authority: Idaho, Kansas, Wyoming

Permission from school authority and completed required training: FloridaMissouri, OklahomaTennessee (only in qualifying districts), Texas, South Dakota

School security

21 States: Alabama, California, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, West Virginia

Only students prohibited

New Hampshire

No relevant statute

Hawaii

Law enforcement

44 States: Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin

 

Allowing School Employees to Carry Firearms

At least nine states—Idaho, Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming—specifically list school employees as exempt from their ban on firearms on K-12 school grounds. All of these states require a school employee to first get approval from a school authority such as the school board or superintendent. Three states—Idaho, Kansas and Wyoming—also require school employees to be concealed carry permit holders. Four additional states—Missouri, Tennessee, Texas and South Dakota—also require school employees to complete training programs, typically provided by a local law enforcement agency.

Florida SB 7026, the comprehensive school safety legislation enacted in response to the events in Parkland, created a unique program—among a number of other provisions—that, according to one legislative staff summary:

“[A]llows school districts to decide whether to participate in the school guardian program if it is available in their county. A school guardian must complete 132 hours of comprehensive firearm safety and proficiency training, 12 hours of diversity training, pass a psychological evaluation, and initial drug test and subsequent random drug tests. No teacher will be required to participate. In fact, the legislation provides that personnel that are strictly classroom teachers with no other responsibilities cannot participate, with specified exceptions.” 

For more information on broader state gun laws, contact the NCSL Criminal Justice Program

Benjamin Erwin is a Research Analyst with the Education Program.