Got Guns?

Schools across the nation are debating providing teachers with firearms in light of recent events

Kelly Titus, Reporter

Since the Parkland, Florida school shooting on February 14, America’s gun regulations have been questioned by thousands now more than ever. While many have been advocating for stricter gun laws, others are considering having teachers armed.

“I have mixed feelings about arming staff,” English teacher Melissa Lewis said. “For one, I think that if we were ever in that situation, I would rather have something to protect my kids, but at the same time, we are not trained to look at a teenager and shoot them. So even if we are armed, I can’t promise that we will be able to shoot them. I know that we would do anything that we could, but we are not soldiers.”

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After the Florida shooting, the idea appeared to grow in popularity, winning early support from the White House and President Trump. He made a speech and a few statements on Twitter regarding the issue, specifically saying things like, “Schools without guns inside of them are setting themselves up for attacks.” 

We would need to be trained with a gun and how to shoot,” Lewis said. “I’ve grown up around guns, so I’m aware of how much training that takes. Gun safety classes would need to be required as well as some kind of training with the police.”

When asked about finances, Lewis said, “We already don’t have enough money in public education to help kids with school supplies, so where is money going to come from for training and the weapons themselves?”

There have been multiple reports in the last few months of teachers firing guns in classrooms and either setting off alarms/lockdowns or injuring students due to their mispractice. According to NBC News, three teenagers in California were hurt when a teacher fired a gun (pointed at the ceiling) during a safety course.

This is a prime example of why there shouldn’t be guns in schools,” junior Keiya Gordon said. “I know it was a mistake, but some teachers just clearly don’t care about the precautions.”

Supporters of arming teachers say it would deter would-be mass shooters who view gun-free zones as easy targets. According to The Washington Post, 42 percent of Americans believe teachers with guns would have prevented the Florida shooting.

Guns in classrooms would be a deterrent for shooters because if armed teachers were to happen, there is a possibility they could be shot at and not reach their ‘goal,’” Lewis said. “Places where shooters shoot are all gun-free and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.”

However, those who disagree with  the idea of firearms on school campuses say that adding guns to schools only increases the chances of shootings and death perpetrated by shooters. According to Independent, the president of the 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, called arming teachers “one of the worst ideas I have heard in a series of really, really, really bad ideas.”

“I think it’s a terrible idea,” Latin teacher Steve Prince said. “There are so many things that can go wrong – what if a teacher was overpowered by a student and they start shooting? What happens if the teacher is defending the school and the police comes in, doesn’t know who exactly the shooter is, and they shoot the teacher?”

To counter some of Prince’s questions, The National Association of School Resource Officers wants to hire more trained law enforcement officers to ensure a teacher’s gun won’t mistakenly wind up in a student’s hands, according to Independent. Even so, how student and parents will react is debated between Prince and Gordon.

I don’t feel like guns would make me feel any safer – in the end it would only cause more commotion and drama,” Gordon said. “Putting firearms in schools just provides more access to guns to the wrong people.”

“I think most parents would be very skeptical of the idea – they want the teachers teaching, not shooting,” Prince said. “I’m sure every parent would be happy to have more officers on campus for protection, but I don’t think they’d want the teachers to have guns. As a parent myself, I don’t know how comfortable I am with my son’s teachers having guns while they are in class.”

There was also the question of whether or not the atmosphere between teacher and student would change.

“I don’t think it would change the atmosphere in classrooms because it wouldn’t be something that’s always talked about,” Lewis said. “It would need to be known that there are staff members around the building who own guns, but I don’t think it needs to be known who.  Only the teachers who are trained and comfortable with guns will have them, and the students won’t know who has what. The gun won’t just be out in the open.”

At this time, no conclusion has been reached on America’s school shooting problem, leaving many to speculate what the smartest solution would be.

We need a trained, full-time mental health professional in every school to reach out to the kids who are having serious troubles,” Prince said. “If we put our resources towards that, we’ll go a long way to preventing bullying, suicide, and shootings, rather than increasing the risk of a tragedy by stocking up on firearms.”