Twenty years after the Columbine High School shooting made practicing for armed intruders as routine as fire drills, many parents have only tepid confidence in the ability of schools to stop a gunman, according to a new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
The survey was conducted both before and after the mass shooting at two mosques in New Zealand. It found that 67 percent of Americans support making US gun laws stricter, while 22 percent say they should be left as they are and 10 percent think they should be made less strict.
Parents of children enrolled in elementary and high school are more likely to think schools have become less safe than adults without children attending school (74% vs. 64%). Overall, 35% of parents feel very confident that their child is safe at school, 43% are moderately confident, and 21% are not too confident.
However, less than half of parents have much confidence in the ability of local law enforcement and schools to deal with an active shooter.
While concerns about school safety and preparedness are prevalent, most Americans do not hold schools responsible for these shootings. Bullying, the availability of guns, and the internet are most often blamed, according to the poll results.
Throughout the years, schools have carried out a series of measures intended to prevent shootings and increase security. The public views certain procedures as more effective than others. More than 70% of adults say that schools are more secure when they conduct lockdown drills, have metal detectors, mental health resources, and armed security guards.
Sixty-two percent say random locker searches and 60% said social media monitoring make schools safer, and 52% think random searches of the students help with school security. Parents of children enrolled in schools are more likely to think that these measures increase school safety than are adults without children.
Armed teachers are seen as the least effective way to increase the security in schools. Only 41% of adults say arming trained teachers would make schools safer, according to the poll results.
Another question asked about support for a state law allowing trained teachers and administrators to be armed in schools. Overall 41% of the public supports these laws. Republicans are more likely than Democrats to support these laws. Sixty-four percent of Republicans are in support compared to only 23% of Democrats and 45% of independents.
Racial differences also divide respondents on the issue, according to the poll results. Only 16% of black respondents would support a state law allowing armed teachers in schools, while 46% of white respondents and 47% of Hispanic respondents favor such a law.
Those who report having a gun in their household are more likely to support arming teachers. Fifty-eight percent of those with a gun in the house favor a law allowing armed teachers compared to 32% of people who do not have a gun.