The Transylvania Times -

Awful Idea To Arm Teachers


February 26, 2018

While President Trump has made some reasonable statements regarding attempts to curb mass shootings after the murder of 14 students and three faculty members at Marjory Stoneham Douglas High School in Florida – raising the age of purchasing certain weapons from 18 to 21, expanding background checks, banning “bump stocks” – the idea of arming teachers is an awful idea. Not only would it have little to any impact on preventing mass shootings, but it also could make the classroom a more dangerous place, shatter student-teacher relations and damage the fragile psyches of children.

For teachers carrying a concealed weapon to be effective, they would have to undertake numerous hours of rigorous training like SWAT team members. They would have to learn to make split-second decisions so that they would avoid shooting innocent students and teachers or other armed responders. But even with such training it’s doubtful such teachers would be effective deterrents to shootings.

Shooting at targets in a controlled environment in which there is no one shooting back is totally different than shooting in a real-life, chaotic situation in which students are running everywhere and the assailant is shooting back. Some who are in the military or law enforcement freeze under these circumstances (the school resource officer at Douglas High School did not even enter the building to confront the shooter); since teachers have less training, there’s no reason they would not do the same.

Since teachers would be focused on instructing the students in their classrooms, they would not respond from their classrooms until they heard gunfire, which means some students already would be shot and killed. Even if teachers were then courageous enough to confront an armed student, they would be careful not to harm any other students. If the shooter were in a crowded hallway, the teacher would not shoot in fear of killing other students. Even if the hallway were completely clear, the teacher would have inferior firepower. As Florida Republican Congressman Brian Mast, who is also an Army veteran and NRA member, wrote, “The defense my concealed 9-millimeter affords me is largely gone if the attacker is firing from beyond 40 yards, as he could easily do with the AR-15.”

The belief that a heavily-armed person would not attack a school if he or she knew there were armed personnel inside is not necessarily true. There were armed officers at both Columbine and Douglas high schools. These shooters have no regard for their own lives. In fact, they may wish to be killed.

The added physical danger is that more guns in the school means more access to guns by students. At nearly every moment throughout their day, teachers are within arm’s reach of a student. Thus, there is always the chance of a student or even a teacher either intentionally or unintentionally discharging a firearm. Hundreds of children are killed or injured at home by misusing their parents’ weapons.

Arming teachers would fracture student-teacher relations. Many elementary school children view their teachers, who are usually female, as a mother figure. They often give each other hugs. Their tactile relations are a manifestation of a deeper relation, a relation that students also can have with their teachers at the middle and high school levels. A teacher with a gun eliminates that tactile bond. (School Resource Officers have good relations with students, but students also know not to get to close, especially to an officer’s firearm.)

Having a child, especially young children, enter a building in which firearms are commonplace sends a sense of insecurity, a constant reminder that death and violence could be lurking anywhere. It places in their mind that there is no safe haven, not even school. Arming teachers is an admitted failure to keep our most precious resources, our children, safe from violence and gunfire.

And there’s the real rub. Even if arming teachers did work, it would do nothing to protect students for the 16 hours a day they are not in the classroom or the 185 days in the year in which they do not attend school, the times when most school-aged children are killed. And it would do nothing to protect children ages 0-5, college students or anyone over the age of 18 from being a victim of a mass shooting.

Under the very best of scenarios, arming teachers would be like putting a band-aid on an 18-inch arterial laceration; even if it stuck it wouldn’t stop the bleeding.


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