The Cost of Arming Teachers with Guns
One of the most publicized solutions to the school shooting epidemic is arming teachers with guns. Being a former math teacher, I was intrigued and wanted to research the actual cost of arming teachers with guns. I have my own beliefs about whether this "solution" would actually solve the problem, but I created and taught a financial math class, I was eager to do the financial analysis (I am a data nerd after all). This blog is my ideas spread out after researching various costs associated with gun ownership. We are first going to break this down for ONE teacher, then discuss a more broad topic of how much money it would cost the State of California. The following is a list of components of gun ownership and associated costs for ONE person:
Notary Public Certification (on application noted above) - $15
Purchase a gun - cost varies, but in education we tend to try to get the most bang for our buck (pun intended), so the cheapest one I could find was the Ruger EC9s Centerfire Pistol - $249.99
Purchase bullets (this would be a box of bullets split among 35 teachers)- $1.20
Purchase lock box for safe classroom storage - $29.99
Make sure to include sales tax (we're going to assume average 8% sales tax) - $22.49
Complete the Firearm Safety Certification Test - $25 (While having teachers go through training on how to actually use a firearm would be smart and ideal, I've worked in education long enough to know that training usually consists of watching a series of videos and signing a paper saying you've watched the videos. As I researched this aspect of gun ownership, there is a study guide on the California Office of the Attorney General website, as well as a couple of videos to show how to safely operate a gun. It is likely that teachers would be required to study in their own time, watch the videos and sign an affidavit saying they've watched the videos and can adhere to strict gun safety handling procedures.)
Note: All costs listed are from the perspective of ME going through the gun ownership process, and may vary based on physical location and types of firearm/training. I think I got it all, but admit that I am not a gun owner, so any gun owners out there, please let me know if there is anything I missed and I will be sure to update this blog to be more accurate.
TOTAL COST FOR ONE TEACHER TO BE ARMED = $363.67
Now let's take that and multiply it by the total number of teachers in the State of California - for the 2016-17 school year, there were 305,103 teachers in the State of California. So if we take the total cost for one teacher to own a firearm and multiply it by how many teachers are in California, we end up with the following:
$363.67 * 305,103 = $110,956,808
TOTAL COST TO ARM THE ENTIRE STATE OF CALIFORNIA'S
TEACHERS WITH GUNS = $111 million
This got me wondering how much of the education budget this represents, so I started digging a little more. To keep consistent with the numbers in the 2016-17 school year, I found the budget for education in this same year was $88.3 billion. So what percentage of the budget would arming teachers with guns be? 0.125% - doesn't seem like a lot, but when we're talking in millions and billions of dollars, it still is a HUGE amount of money (or as President Trump would say, YUGE!). Let's take it in terms of a teacher's salary. The most recent information I could find on average teacher salaries was for the 2015-16 school year and at that time, the average teacher's salary in California was $77,179. We could hire an additional 1,437 teachers in the State of California for the amount of money it would cost to arm all teachers with guns...and that is using the average teacher salary. We all know that when you start out, you're making a whole lot less than $77k per year. But even so, this still doesn't solve the root of the problem.
The root of the problem is that the kids who are spending time meticulously planning a school shooting attack NEED HELP. They have spent an ABUNDANCE of time being bullied in schools, suffering from challenging home lives, and have no real coping skills because they haven't been TAUGHT this. We don't have any control over what life/family circumstances kids are born into, but we DO have control of the skills and strategies we are choosing to teach them and equip them with to help them be successful in life. If we could take $77,179 and hire 1,437 teachers at this salary to specifically teach/coach kids at multiple school sites various coping skills, resiliency-building skills, confidence-boosting skills/activities, and allow them to feel/be HEARD, we'd be a whole lot closer to making significant, MEANINGFUL progress in this school shooting epidemic. I'd love to hear your thoughts...
UPDATE - 4/10/18: Thanks to a couple of readers (Jennifer D. on Facebook and @2UsDeplorables on Twitter), I received some additional information and have been looking into it... While I'm unable to find detailed legislative information regarding number of staff/teachers to arm per school, it makes sense that not every single teacher would be armed in every single school. The number that was mentioned was "a few," so I'm going to go conservative and say that five teachers/staff members in each school will be armed. The other piece of this is that we are talking about concealed weapons, which requires a concealed-carry permit and detailed training. So I did a little digging and found that in the 2016-17 school year, there were 10,680 schools in operation. Let's suppose the cost remained at $363.67 per armed staff member, the revised math would look like this:
$363.67 * 5 * 10,680 = $19,419,978
TOTAL COST TO ARM 5 TEACHERS PER SCHOOL IN ALL OF CALIFORNIA'S SCHOOLS WITH GUNS = $19.4 million
This is significantly less than my original numbers for obvious reasons. That being said, this number is too low because there are much more stringent requirements for carrying a concealed weapon, including additional fees and trainings. To wrap back around to my original idea, at this rate, we could hire an additional 252 teachers in the State of California for the amount of money it would cost to arm 5 teachers in every school with guns. Again, I'd love to know your thoughts...