The Slatest

Trump Just Proposed Giving As Many As 150 Teachers Per School Financial Bonuses for Carrying Guns

Donald Trump at the White House on Thursday.
Donald Trump at the White House on Thursday.
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

You probably think that headline is an exaggeration or a joke. It’s not!

On Wednesday, Donald Trump said that arming security guards is not an appropriate solution to the problem of school shootings because one would need 100 or more guards to cover the typical large high school campus, suggesting that teachers who were military veterans could pick up the slack.

On Thursday, the president returned to this theme during a brief White House appearance, elaborating that instead of hiring 100 or 150 security guards, you could pay teachers bonuses (!) to carry guns themselves:

The president’s numbers don’t quite add up, though, which suggests the troubling possibility that he may not have thought this plan through carefully before announcing it. Few if any schools employ 250 or more teachers, which is how many you’d need in order to reach the minimum goal of 100 armed individuals at a carry rate of 40 percent. (In fact, if we’re using 100–150 armed guards as the baseline for a safe school, you’d probably want many more than 150 armed teachers, given that the guards would be doing full-time guarding whereas the teachers would have to split their time between security work and regular teaching. You’d probably need something in the neighborhood of 400 to 20,000 armed teachers per campus, in my opinion, to reach the right level of coverage.) It also seems unlikely that there are any schools at which 40 percent of teachers would be trained, “highly adept” ex-military weapons experts, but … hey, I just write down what he says, I don’t decide whether it makes sense. (It doesn’t.)

From the perspective of teachers themselves, this is a bit of a conundrum: On the one hand, it’s probably nice to see a politician—a Republican, no less—supporting pay increases for educators. On the other hand, it does seem like the most efficient solution to the problem of school security will ultimately be to cut out the middleman by just asking the guns themselves to teach classes.