More than 40 percent of North Carolinians favor more armed security, or police officers, at North Carolina schools, according to polling data released by the Civitas Institute ahead of the House School Safety Committee Thursday.
The committee on Thursday unanimously approved more than a dozen recommendations made to the full committee, which will now head on to the General Assembly when the short legislative session convenes next week.
The proposals focus on increasing safety at schools through increased funding and training for school resource officers, increased disaster planning, and also more funds and planning for increasing access to counseling for students in the school system to head off these tragedies before they happen.
Missing from the recommendations is a line of increased gun control regulations hailed by Democrats such as removing the right to purchase a firearm from adults until they reach the age of 21, as well as bans on modern sporting rifles, certain magazine sizes and more.
But while those types of measures are at or near the top of the wish list for Democrats, North Carolinians have a different focus looking at the most recent poll numbers.
When asked what the best way to enhance school security, 43 percent of respondents to the Civitas poll said security guards, more armed guards, police resource officers, military or trained guards.
The second most popular method, at 13 percent, was increased security in the form of metal detectors, scanners or checkpoints at entrances to schools.
Eleven percent also called for arming teachers or allowing trained armed teachers in schools rounding out the top three answers.
“Typically open-ended poll questions don’t result in such definitive responses. However, the overwhelming response for increased security personnel gives a clear answer to lawmakers looking for solutions,” Civitas President Donald Bryson said. “It’s interesting to note that increased gun control was far down the list on voter’s priorities when it comes to school security solutions.”
Two answers tied at 8 percent, which were securing the school buildings by requiring visitors to be let in remotely by someone in the school office and increased gun control.
Many schools already require visitors to be buzzed in from the front office when visiting.
Other responses, all of which received less than 10 percent support, included better parenting, getting rid of guns completely, developing safety plans, specifically not arming teachers, increased general security, increased mental health awareness, more funding for schools, and more prayer in school.
The statewide poll collected responses from 600 likely North Carolina voters, 35 percent of which were cell phone only users.
The committee met Thursday to discuss a number of proposals that arose out of the separate working groups within the committee focused on physical safety, student health.
The reports included proposed legislation and legislative goals for the state to take up to increase safety and mental health access and aid.
The state stepping up to study and develop a plan to act on changes to increase safety falls in line with the wishes of North Carolinians that the state, and local governments, seek out a solution to making school safer over waiting for federal solutions to the issues.
When polled 45 percent of respondents wanted local government to take up reforms to improve school safety, and 31 percent said that the state government should make the changes.
Only 12 percent said it was the federal governments role, while 6 percent called on all three sectors of government to make the changes.
“A plurality of voters expressed greater trust in local government when it came to crafting school safety policy,” Bryson said.
NC Capitol Connection is a product of the Civitas Institute.