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Arming Teachers Is Not The Best Way To Prevent School Shootings

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“We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them” (Einstein). On February 14, 2018, Valentine’s Day, a day that many consider the day of love, a shooting occurred; a 19 year old boy entered Parkland, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, opened fire, killed 17 people, and injured 17 others. Due to this devastating situation along with many other school shootings that have occurred, lawmakers have come together in certain states suggesting that arming school teachers would be a viable solution to this problem. This would act as a deterrence for shooters and would allow teachers to act before law enforcement arrives, therefore making the schools more safe. However, arming teachers is not the best solution to keeping our children safe at school because there are many issues associated with this idea, such as added responsibilities for teachers, logistical issues of training, and unfair treatment of faculty that carry a handgun.

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Let’s face it, teachers want to teach and arming them would add more responsibilities and liability to their task driven day. In my opinion, teachers are already taken advantage of by our education system and don’t get paid enough as it is. Imagine adding the responsibility of protecting a concealed weapon while teaching a class or the requirement of having to participate in a simulated active shooter scenario on a monthly or quarterly basis while trying to manage a work life balance. A teacher’s job is to create a comfortable working environment that allows creativity for different types of learning and development. The idea of the added responsibility alone can be stressful. Who is going to take responsibility if a gun is to accidentally go off or is used by a student who somehow takes a teacher’s gun? What if a teacher accidentally shoots a student? If a teacher decides to hide and not fight, is he or she liable? As you can see, these are all real questions and situations that a teacher will now have to face. All this responsibility can lead to added stress for a teacher. There are too many possible issues if guns were to be given to teachers. During the February 14, 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, a few Broward Sheriff Officers had been accused of not doing their job despite their military training background. Does that make them liable? There was a lot of responsibility in that situation and the outcome was still devastating, despite all that training. Given these points, it is clear that there are various things that can happen when putting all that responsibility in the hands of a teacher just to prevent gun violence at schools.

Another point that can be made is the difficult logistics and problematic issues and expectations of training teachers. What’s obvious is that one class or a few classes alone is not enough to meet the skill requirement for proper safety standards of an ‘Active Shooter’ scenario. To become a skilled shooter there would have to be constant training. The cost and the amount of time spent would make this incredibly difficult. As previously mentioned in the topic on added responsibility, the work-life balance for a teacher, at certain times, is non-existent. Therefore to add training into their schedule is logistically challenging. When it comes to issues and expectations of training, one of the issues that gets oversimplified is the reality of what really happens in a live shooting situation compared to what you experience in training. Guns aren’t accurate and therefore it requires the handler to be very skillfully sharp, especially around students. It has been proven that despite the training, the gun user still runs into issues. A local officer that trains on Live Shooting situations stated that, “even the best training produces high rates of misfiring and bystander injuries.” The logistical concern pertaining to finding the right amount of qualified teachers that would meet Trump’s proposed option also poses a challenge. “On February 20th, 2018, while holding a listening session at the White House, President Trump suggested in response to Marjory Stoneman Douglas mass shooting that 20 percent of the teachers who are gun adept with military or special training experience should be armed” (Trudo). Let’s do the math, Since the United States has 3.6 million public school teachers based on the national center for education statistics from a 2017 reporting, Trump is proposing to arm 720,000 of them. The issue here is finding the amount of qualified candidates that meet the standards the president is suggesting. Recently, while at a training conference in Houston and what has been another noticeable trending issue, Frank Finney, a Texas high school teacher, stated at some point during one of the sessions “The day no longer resembled a professional conference, but a discourse on survival”. This was the reality check that he was not expecting prior to walking into a weekend filled with information and optimism. To put it briefly, there are a myriad of logistical concerns, problematic issues and high expectations that will come up while trying to keep the students safe.

Not everyone who carries a concealed weapon is treated fairly. Recently Black teachers and advocates have pointed out they have historically faced a different set of circumstances and assumptions when it comes to gun ownership. The very act of carrying a firearm could pose a threat to them, personally, even if it were never fired. For example, many can recall what unjustly happened to Philando Castile a school employee with a permit to carry a gun. When he was pulled over by the police, Castile told the officer he had a legally owned firearm in the car. Following every possible measure to ensure he adhered to the rules, Castile was nevertheless fatally shot by the police. The risk of this happening more often for armed civilian who are not treated the same may rise.

I’m not saying Gun Control laws are bad, but instead I’m saying they are necessary to prevent the likes of mass shootings from happening and becoming a nationwide epidemic. We as people, for the most part, can agree that we want to prevent more of these mass shooting events from happening, but we have to get down to the core of the issue. Instead we should address these gun laws with safer and gradual solutions of preventative measures while potentially bringing upon more harsh punishments for carrying guns altogether possible. We can do this while maintaining the highest standard of excellence regarding our safety and freedom. Considering all that has been happening around mass shooting. I also agree that if we don’t properly reform gun laws in favor of strengthening our countries position on this topic, we would actually make our federal and local governments look irresponsible. It is the right and duty to do the humane thing by taking fair action on this subject with the best preventative and resolution plan. By not reforming Gun Laws, lawmakers would cultivate the existing fear and hatred of our Government and would encourage these terroristic like behaviors. We can’t have that in the greatest country in the world.

In closure, arming school teachers is an extremely controversial topic and I don’t think it will stop or reduce school shootings. Communities across America continue to debate this topic on a moral issue stance alone. The goal is to facilitate a healthy educational environment while taking this issue on mass shooting in a healthier manner. There are states that already have a high security protocol such as metal detectors, x-rays, and an armed security guard at all entrance points of the school campuses. Suffice to say, those school have prevented mass shooting or weapons and/or unsafe items from entering the school grounds. Therefore we can see other prevention methods that are safer. As discussed, many things can go wrong with having guns within school walls at all time. Whether those issues be the added responsibility and liability of carrying a gun, to the logistical issues that will be faced and the unfair treatment of owning a gun. We can see that there is still work to be done to solve this mass shooting issue and I don’t agree with arming teachers as being the solution. 

09 March 2021

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