Date of Conferral





Criminal Justice


Marisa Bryant


There has been an increase in the number of mass school shootings even though there are policies in place such as the Gun-Free School Zone Act (GFSZA) to stop such crimes from occurring. Although there is a divide between supporters of these policies and those who want them revamped or removed, all want the same result: to end mass school shootings. The debate between those who wish to leave policies such as the GFSZA in place and those who seek to replace them with new policies that allow guns on campus for various personnel has strong advocates on both sides. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the experiences and knowledge of teachers and staff regarding the effectiveness of the GFSZA. The theoretical framework used to guide the dissertation was the social construction framework. The study's first research question concerned the perspectives of high school staff and faculty in the southeastern United States on the nature of the relationship between the social construct of social populations related to the GFSZA and the policy's efficacy in preventing mass casualty events on campus. The second research question addressed safety measures that should be implemented to deter school shootings. Data was collected from 25 anonymous online surveys, which were coded and analyzed to determine what themes emerged. Overall research determined that changes needed to be made to the GFSZA policy for it to be more effective in protecting students and staff from mass shooters. The study may have a significant impact toward positive social change by facilitating greater understanding of school shootings and informing the creation of policies and procedures that may be effective in preventing these crimes from occurring.