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A majority of Michigan Education Association educators polled on the potential arming of school personnel oppose it, according to survey results released Monday by the association.

The survey, which included responses from 1,005 public school employees who are MEA members, found 71 percent opposed allowing school employees to carry concealed guns in schools. Sixty-seven percent said allowing school personnel to carry firearms in schools would be ineffective at preventing gun violence in schools, according to the survey conducted by GBA Strategies, a Washington, D.C.-based consulting group.

Sixty-three percent of members opposed a proposal to allow school employees to have guns in schools, even if they are required to receive firearms training, and guns are locked and can only be accessed by a teacher’s fingerprint. Twenty percent favored the proposal and 17 said they didn’t know, MEA officials said.

“This poll clearly demonstrates that teachers and support staff on the front lines do not believe arming school employees will make schools safer — in fact, many of our members feel allowing more guns in schools will make them less safe,” said Paula Herbart, president of the Michigan Education Association.

“Policymakers should listen to educators who work every day with students instead of pushing irresponsible proposals that would make our schools less safe,” Herbart said.

The MEA has about 140,000 members statewide that include teachers, education support professionals and higher-education employees. The survey results reported were less than 1 percent of the union’s total membership.

Legislation to allow school personnel to carry guns or keep guns in locked boxes in schools has been proposed by politicians at the state and national levels.

Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature has contemplated various changes to state law. The state Senate in November approved a bill that would allow concealed guns in schools, which supporters argue would cause fewer disruptions than openly carried weapons.

In March, House Judiciary Chairman Jim Runestad, R-White Lake Township, said he is developing legislation that would allow specially trained teachers and staff to access weapons in schools, which are generally considered gun-free zones.

Runestad said he envisions willing school employees would be able to use a fingerprint to unlock a weapon that could be used in the event of an active shooter.

The MEA survey also found 49 percent of educators believe the level of gun violence has reached a state of crisis for the country and 32 percent see it as a serious problem. A 58 percent majority of members are worried there could be a mass shooting at their own school.

“As a retired teacher, a gun owner, and a supporter of the Second Amendment, I believe arming school employees is the wrong approach for improving school safety and protecting our kids,” said Jim Pearson, who taught at Huron Valley Schools in Oakland County. , retired teacher from where

“Michigan educators want more funding for mental health counseling to prevent tragedies from happening in the first place, not more guns in schools.”

The MEA ordered the survey and paid for it. The survey, which carries a margin of error plus or minus 3 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence interval, was conducted online April 4 through April 9.

JChambers@detroitnews.com

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