In general, Utahns overwhelmingly approve of allowing public school teachers to carry concealed weapons in their classroom, a new UtahPolicy poll finds.
But when you break out the questions along partisan and, surprisingly, gender lines, the results change dramatically, the Dan Jones & Associates findings show.
The bottom line: Don’t expect the male, GOP-controlled Legislature to make any gun law changes following an incident last month where a female Westbrook Elementary teacher with a concealed/carry permit accidently shot herself in the leg and blew out a toilet in the faculty rest room.
The teacher was not seriously injured and no one else was harmed. School administrators did not know she was legally carrying her concealed weapon to school – and Utah law does not require such an administration notification.
Usually Jones polls don’t show a significant difference between men and women’s opinions on any subject.
But this poll is very different.
Jones found that 74 percent of men polled said teachers “probably” or “definitely” should be able to carry their concealed weapons in schools.
Only 26 percent of men said no – teachers shouldn’t be allowed to carry concealed weapons in school.
But women – who in Utah society traditionally have more to do with the raising of children and interactions with teachers and administrators – feel differently: 56 percent of women said teachers should be able to bring licensed guns to school, 41 percent said no.
And when asked if teachers should be required to tell their administrators (who would then tell parents) if they are bringing concealed guns to school – very different answers as well.
Men, by a 49-42 percent majority, said concealed/carry teachers should have to tell their bosses and parents of students.
But 71 percent of women said parents and administrators should be informed that a teacher at the school is carrying a concealed weapon to class.
Jones said the gender differences in this case are illustrative of larger male/female feelings about guns in society.
“Men are very much more advocates of 2nd Amendment rights, and they feel that if guns are stopped in schools it will lead to more gun control (overall),” said Jones, who has polled in Utah for more than 40 years.
“Women fear more (gun) violence,” he added. “They more often seek to curb the use of weapons in the U.S., and are worried about our inability to properly handle” such violence, especially in schools.
“Men really feel that there is a movement to curb weapons in America; and they oppose that at every chance they get,” said Jones.
While men by a slight plurality feel teacher gun-totters should have to tell administrators, who in turn would tell parents, that there are teachers legally carrying guns in schools, overall 68 percent of Utahns said such information should be provided to bosses and parents.
But Jones also found that when Republicans are asked the same questions, that 68 percent overall notification support drops to just 50 percent among the GOP.
Sixty-nine percent of Democrats said parents and administrators should be informed if a teacher is bringing a gun to school.
While 67 percent of political independents feel the same way.
Eighty percent of Republicans said teachers should be allowed to bring properly licensed guns to school; only 27 percent of Democrats said that; while 57 percent of independents said 2ndAmendment rights should be extended to public school teachers in the classroom.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that while 2nd Amendment rights extend to individuals, governments can restrict gun carry in certain cases – like in schools, airports, churches, hospitals, prisons and jails and other areas.
The Utah Legislature has been conservative on gun rights, generally allowing concealed/carry in most public places, including schools.
For example, any concealed/carry permit holder can bring his gun to the Capitol and sit in the public galleries and committees during legislative work.
Several House members carry their guns on their persons during the 45-day legislative session.
Under Utah law church leaders can decide for themselves whether to restrict guns, and the LDS Church does ban guns from its religious buildings.
Finally, Jones sought to measure whether parents of children of school age felt differently about guns in schools than other Utahns.
The results are mixed, but in general there is not a large difference among parents of school-age children and other Utahns when it comes to these topics.
A majority of such parents favor teachers being able to carry guns in classrooms, while a majority also favors parents and administrators being told of such carry activity – the same results in general as the public at large.
Jones polled 409 Utahns last week; the survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent.
Jones said from comments made by those polled during the interviews: Utahns “are very frightened that there could be more school shootings, and that maybe (having teachers with licensed guns) is a start in protecting children as well as we can.”
(Editor’s Note: Zions Bank is a major sponsor of UtahPolicy.com, and through its generous donations we are able to conduct Dan Jones & Associates polling.)