With the unfortunate boost of mass shootings sprawling across the United States, it has become apparent that places that are supposed to be a safe haven for children are not cleared from the wrath of mass shooters. With the spike of school shootings, it has become a political turmoil. The two sides quarreling about whether to give the United States stricter gun laws or to continue the right to bear arms with little to no restriction. In one of the most recent school shootings that took place in Parkland, Florida where seventeen teachers and students were shot and killed, action was finally taken, but not an action that was necessary. In a National Education Association article “Arming teachers is not the answer.” written by Cindy Long and Tim Walker, they found that Florida lawmakers and the Trump administration see it fit, as a form of protection to place guns in the classroom instead of just placing a restriction altogether. A bill has been currently passed through our legislation stating that teachers would be trained to carry firearms putting 10 armed educators in every school (Long). This bill would arm around roughly 37,000 schools statewide (Long). For children, school is a place where they should feel safe and secure and grudgingly the government feels that fighting fire with fire by arming teachers is the real resolution. With this bill, teachers not only have to worry about actual school shooters, but with being responsible with the guns around children. They also need to be concerned about being held accountable if they are disarmed by a student, cause an accidental fire, and even having to add more chaos to their already hectic schedule.
The Trump administration and the Florida lawmakers passed the bill without acknowledging those who have to deal with it first hand, the teachers. According to CNBC article “73 percent of teachers oppose guns in schools, Gallup finds” created by reporter Annie Nova, that in a Gallup survey of 497 educators, it was discovered that out the amount of educators who teach kindergarten through 12th grade, a massive 73% of the 497 had an opposition to being armed (Nova). Not only did a mass majority of the educators not support the bill, but stated that they would refuse training if the option was made available to them (Nova). Not only are teachers uncomfortable with this bill, but a loaded gun casually strapped on to an educator is an accident waiting to happen and when exposed to students in a small classroom setting, it could be fatal. Shortly after the bill in Florida had been passed, there were already two incidences of accidental fire by firearm in a classroom. Bill Hutchinson in an ABC News story “2 accidental shootings at US schools, one by armed teacher, the other by resource officer” writes the article about the two incidents. The first incident took place in California’s Seaside High School, when Dennis Alexander, an armed teacher at the school and a reserve officer of Sand City, accidentally fired his firearm while in a classroom teaching his students about public safety awareness (Hutchinson). Luckily no one was injured. The second incident took place in Alexandria, Virginia in George Washington Middle School. The incident began when the schools resource officer and five year veteran of the Alexandria Police Department accidentally fired his weapon in his office (Hutchinson). Luckily in this story as well, no one was injured, and did not take place inside a classroom, however having firearms in the classroom not only places all of the responsibilities on the teachers, but on the children as well. Children are young, naive, do not have a grasp on the consequences of their actions, and sometimes their curiosity gets the best of them, which is yet another reason why guns do not have a place in the classroom. In another ABC news article, “Students grabbing guns from officers highlights the dangers of weapons at school” written by Whitney Lloyd, she goes into the details of a case in Minnesota involving a third grade boy who removed a firearm from the resource officer’s holster. Once the boy obtained the gun he accidentally shot into the floor of the gymnasium (Lloyd). Whitney Lloyd also goes into the details of two more stories similar to students grabbing guns from their superiors, but these stories involve older students who instead of having an innocent or naive motive, their intent was to do harm. In Michigan, a high school student was accused of grabbing the sheriff deputy’s holster shortly after assaulting his ex-girlfriend in the hallway. He grabbed the sheriff’s gun so violently that he fired the firearm and the bullet hit the ground and ricocheted off the wall (Lloyd). The other incident took place in Kansas when resource officers were called to calm down a sporadic and unruly student. When the student saw one of the resource officers he quickly began getting violent and tried to retrieve the officer’s gun during an attack (Lloyd). In these three cases of students obtaining firearms, no one was injured, but it is so clearly shown in these five stories all together that shortly occurred after the bill had been passed sets an example that accidents can happen and more importantly, it can happen to highly trained professionals that had firearm training with one even being a police officer veteran. Anyone can get distracted and make a mistake, we are all human, but when it comes to a loaded gun that can lead to a dire situation and can even be the cause of an accidental death of a child, it is not to be taken lightly. Teachers in the school are most likely not trained with firearms like officers are and they are in schools to primarily teach the youth. Educators can easily be taken advantage of by a curiously naive child or a violent teenager.
In today’s events, educators are of course the ones who have the right to decide whether they choose to carry a firearm, or continue to have class without one. While a mass majority of educators do not approve of Trump’s new reform, some educators believe it is the answer and already carry a gun to class. In the CNN article “These schools say arming teachers can be done right’ written by Nicole Chavez, she brings a light on the unpopular side of the argument. After the tragic Sandy Hook shooting where more than twenty children and teachers were killed, a school district in Arkansas decided to take actions into their own hands by training and arming more than a dozen educators and staff members (Chavez). Another school that decided to take action was the Clarksville School District. They have their educators, janitors, and other staff members armed and ready in case of a rampage shooter (Chavez). Jim Krohn, a social studies teacher at Clarksville junior high who decided to be one of the teachers armed, believes that the program in place is an excellent solution. ‘If we didn’t do this and somebody came into this building or any of our school buildings and harmed children, it would be hard to go to sleep that night thinking what else could I have done and at least we’ve done what we think is the best thing to protect the children of Clarksville school district” (Chavez). Not only does this bill make teachers feel more powerful and ready during school shootings, but it also makes their students feel safer. A school about 85 miles north of Dallas decided to add a “guardian program” which is essentially just having armed teachers that have volunteered to carry firearms. (Chavez). This program is praised by the schools superintendent Clugston by stating, ‘We’ll do whatever’s necessary to protect our kids and staff. We don’t want to be at the mercy of someone that’s intent on doing harm” (Chavez). With this program, children feel safer knowing that their teachers are able to protect them if something were to happen (Chavez). Though a small majority of teachers believe that this is the answer, there is still a reason why 73% of them don’t follow through with this bill.
While it is noble for some educators and staff to feel that they need to battle the shooter head- on, it is not likely that this is the reality. Other than the examples of accidental fire and students disarming officers with ease, a Vox article, “The case against arming teachers” with statistics, German Lopez refutes the arguments on more guns means more safety. The policy of having more guns in schools is alarming based on the fact that there is little to no valuable research on if this bill would actually benefit schools and the children. This in itself is odd, a policy with this much girth can impact the lives of parents, teachers, and even students has no graspable research and evidence. The research and evidence that is currently available is that more guns equals more violence. The United States has the highest number of firearms owned in the world. With a 2007 study showing the amount of firearms owned by civilians was 88.8 per 100 people and out of all the developed countries in this world, the United States has the highest number of death by firearm cases with the death percentage also including mass shooting victims (Lopez). Though mass shootings only make up 2% of deaths by firearm according to CNN, “the United States only makes up 5% of the population, but holds 31% of global mass shooters’ (Lopez). The percentage regardless if it looks small, still packs a huge punch. It says a lot about the United states where mass shootings are a normal occurrence, but only makes up 2% of firearm deaths. With the spike of guns and violence from these weapons in the United States, statistics clearly shows that putting more guns, especially in schools on top of a already present gun issue will not resolve, but instead boost the issue. In the last argument pro armed teachers make is that teachers will have the ability to protect students with the weapons that are provided by the government. Not only does that place the life and responsibility of a child’s life in the hands of a school teacher, but it also isn’t likely. There has been multiple simulations conducted and it has been found that most people that are placed in the way of a rampage shooter not only fail at protecting the children, they also get themselves killed in the process (Lopez). Even Coby Briehn, a senior instructor at advanced law enforcement rapid response training, claims that teachers can never get enough training to be completely ready for the case of a school shooter. Officers will even lose their lives trying to engage a shooter to get them to back down with a percentage of 46.7 suffering from injuries or dying by trying. (Lopez). Officers are people that risk their lives, train and prepare their entire careers to engage with armed perpetrators and the percentage of them dying from this is huge. To imagine a teacher trying to stop a rampage shooter successfully is extremely unlikely and could end up with them suffering from injuries or dying in the process.
Regardless if you are pro-arming teachers or anti-arming teachers one thing is certain, we all want to take our children to school knowing that while they are there they will be safe and secure. In present times, we cannot do that anymore. We never know when or where the next rampage schooling will take place; however, in this time of fear and anxiety we must not fight fire with fire. Arming teachers does not solve the issue of gun violence against children, but instead can make it worse. Teachers even with proper training have no reason or place to have the responsibility of risking their lives trying to stop a rampage shooter with a firearm when it has been proven that the outcome of them surviving is unlikely. Children who have an overwhelming sense of curiosity should not be in the position that if they were to disarm an educator they could accidentally kill a classmate, and teenagers who are already not mentally sane should not have easier access already in a school to grab the gun of a resource officer and start shooting. People with a passion for education are not put on this earth to have a part time job as a bodyguard, but they are here to teach the youth and they are here to show kindness and caring. Arm teachers with higher wages, supplies, and support, not guns.