Poll: Teachers oppose carrying guns on campus

Teachers overwhelmingly oppose having its workforce carry guns on campus, according to a poll of 400 teachers released Monday by the state’s largest teachers’ union.

“We are just very, very heartened by the fact that teachers do not want their schools turned into fortresses. They want to have the ability to teach free of any potential violence in their building,” said Mark Waxenberg, executive director of the Connecticut Education Association.

Of the teachers surveyed from from different schools across the state, 85 percent oppose allowing teachers to carry guns in schools, 3 percent support having the option available to teachers and the rest did not respond. Of those teachers surveyed, nearly 1 in 5 have a gun in their home. And 77 percent of those that have guns are against arming teachers.

Current state law allows teachers and security staff to have guns at school if “school officials” have granted them permission. Connecticut is one of 18 states that allows certain people to carry weapons on campus, according to a investigation done by NBC News U.S.

Waxenberg said he knows of no district in Connecticut that allows a teacher to carry a gun to school. He added that 36 percent of the teachers — all from different schools — reported they have a police officer or school resource offier stationed at their school, and 22 percent have an armed officer. The telephone poll was conducted by Massachusetts-based Abacus Associates over the weekend.

Waxenberg said that current state law may be too vague on defining who can be allowed to carry guns on a campus.

“We have to examine the law to make it very, very clear who is allowed to carry on campus,” he said during an interview after releasing the results of the poll.

Following the massacre of 20 schoolchildren and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, the National Rifle Association called for allowing armed staff in every school.

In other survey results of the teachers, 98 percent favor extending criminal and mental health background checks for all gun purchases, and 88 percent support banning the sale or possession of assault weapons to the general public.

Minutes after the poll was released, the legislature’s special task force heard from the father of Jesse Lewis, a student who was killed in the Dec. 14 shooting.

“I never thought I would be here asking for change,” Neil Heslin told the panel of legislators. “He was my only son, and my only family … I just ask [if] they could place a ban on” assault weapons.