AP ARMING TEACHERS A USA TX
This August 2016 photo shows a sign outside a school in Claude, Texas, which Claude Independent School District posts outside their schools.
Creede Newton, AP

Corrections and Clarifications: A previous version of this story misstated the location of Fairview R-XI School District.

As U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos leads a commission tasked with examining ways to protect schools, including arming school personnel, will K-12 buildings swap "gun-free zone" signs for a more armed and dangerous message? 

White House officials, including President Trump himself, have said they would support offering federal funds for "rigorous firearms training" to qualified school employees.

It's a fiercely debated idea amid requests for stricter gun laws from student survivors of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting. An NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll showed the majority of Americans don't want to arm teachers, but 42% of people said they should. As Florida looks at a proposal to arm its teachers, critics say it could create more problems, citing the 132 hours of training required — less than what basic police recruits receive. 

► March 13: Arizona teachers already can carry guns in school, state says
► March 8: 132 hours to train teachers on guns: Is it enough?

► March 7: After Florida shooting, more than 600 copycat threats targeted schools

Many educational groups such as the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association are against it.

"We need solutions that will keep guns out of the hands of those who want to use them to massacre innocent children and educators. Arming teachers does nothing to prevent that," NEA president Lily Eskelsen García said. 

Carrying a gun isn't something many  teachers want to do, the #ArmMeWith movement pointed out. Instead, many say they'd appreciate more funding for other resources.

But arming teachers isn’t a new concept — it's already happened. 

In Texas, some teachers have carried guns to school for years. The state is home to 172 school districts out of 1,023 statewide that have a policy allowing staff to carry firearms, per the Texas Association of School Boards. Most districts made the decision to arm staff after the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut that killed 26 people, mostly young children.

Texas school administrators operating under what’s known as the Guardian Plan are allowed to carry handguns on them or keep them locked in a safe. Schools receive stipends under the plan to cover ammunition for practice and annual tactical training. The plan is just one of three ways Texas public schools can arm staff. Others include forming police forces and establishing school marshals. Districts also may contract with security firms and law enforcement to patrol campuses.

► March 8: How West Texas has been arming teachers for years
► Feb. 24: This school district is already allowing teachers to carry guns

Missouri schools have been arming teachers for years, too. Aaron Sydow, the superintendent of the Fairview R-XI School District in West Plains, said when he started in education 20 years ago, he could not have imagined teachers walking the hallways with concealed handguns, but this is a different day and age.

"It's sad that it's come to this," he said.

At least 14 states arm teachers and another 16 states give local school boards the authority to decide whether school staff can carry guns, according to data compiled by VICE News

Some schools make it clear to visitors they employee armed staff, but others choose to conceal the defense measure. For example, a school district a few dozen miles north of Dayton, Ohio, keeps its guns, Glock 19s, strategically hidden in school buildings, tucked inside biometric safes that can only be opened with a thumbprint. According to Ohio law, anyone "who has written authorization from the board of education or governing body of a school" to carry a weapon in school can.

For parents living in states where guns are allowed in school, there's no real way to know in some cases if your child's teacher is carrying a gun. 

In Utah, anyone with a concealed carry permit may carry a gun in a school if approved by a school administrator. In Southern Utah, at least one shooting range offers a gunfighting course specifically geared toward educators carrying guns in the classroom. 

The response has been different in Indiana, a state that allows teachers to be armed. Just one school district in the state has allowed firearms on school grounds. But that could change, as at least one other district is considering the policy.

If White House promises play out, Justice Department funding for arming school staff could also persuade more schools to entertain the option. Even with funding available, DeVos did stress arming every teacher would not be "appropriate" and those involved should be volunteers, saying "nobody should be mandated to do it." 

Contributing: Michelle Gaitan, San Angelo Standard-Times; and Harrison Keegan, Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader. Follow Ashley May on Twitter: @AshleyMayTweets