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One in five American teachers is a weapons expert - is this correct?

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By Ronald Veldhuizen | March 6, 2018

News often spreads at lightning speed, whether it is accurate or not. We try to separate sense from nonsense. This week: one in five American teachers is expertly skilled with weapons.

Wait a second: that’s not what he meant!  After Donald Trump was criticized for his proposal to arm teachers, the president of the United States tried explaining it again. Only teachers with ample firearm experience, such as former soldiers, should get a gun. And there are already a lot of them, he says on Twitter: About 20 percent of all teachers would already have the ability to return fire.

The question of whether more guns in the classroom would be useful in deterring possible perpetrators, is debatable, but the question here is: are one of every five American teachers really trained weapons specialists who can hold their own in a shooting?

Is that so?

There may be indications of how many teachers can handle firearms aggressively, although no one keeps track of the exact figure. Many firearms-trained ex-servicemen do go into education: since 1993, the special Troops to Teachers program has retrained more than 20,000 veterans as teachers. Assuming they all still teach, they would make up about half a percent of the more than three and a half million teachers in America, according to

The number could be higher. Because there are also other, smaller military retraining programs, and veterans from before 1993 can also stand in front of the class.  Journalists at the website Politico examined government figures and arrived at 2 percent. Nowhere near the 20 percent that Trump was talking about.

“I also carried a weapon for 30 years, but now that I do not train anymore, I find that irresponsible.”  Joseph J. Vince, lecturer and firearms expert.

Yet the chances are small that this group saves lives in a firefight. This requires annual training, says Joseph J. Vince, lecturer at the American Mount St. Mary's University and firearms expert. In the United States, remarkably little firearm research appears, but in 2013 Vince conducted a study into how firearm owners respond in shooting situations. This showed that only police officers who go on a shooting course each year adequately used their weapons. The rest often missed or fired too late. "Veterans also joined in," Vince notes.

'If they do not maintain that proficiency, they can accidentally hit bystanders. I also wore a weapon myself for 30 years, but now that I do not train anymore, I find that irresponsible. '

Final verdict

Trump is wrong: not 20, but only one half to 2 percent of teachers are weapons experts. It is also uncertain whether these people with shooting experience have their skills up to standard.

Translated from Dutch by Kim P. Hansen, Ph.D.

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