October 13, 2018
Ed 340: Controversial Essay
Teachers with Guns
In today’s society, a society which is ever seeking the next best measure for safety, the topic of guns is one that causes stress. One of the biggest topics regarding safety has centered around how to protect elementary and secondary students at school. Recently there has been many discussions on arming teachers within these schools in order to better protect the students from active shooters who may enter the school. In this article I will be providing information on why teachers with firearm training should be allowed to carry within a school and why they should be prohibited.
Due to the many school shootings that have taken place in the past decade there have been many discussions about how to provide better protection for students in school and on campus nationwide. This past year President Trump made a proposal to arm 20% of Americas teachers. The president proposed arming “well trained and gun adept” teachers with a background with firearm safety and experience (Santoni, 2018). The main purpose for teachers to carry a firearm while on school property would be as a first line of defense against an active shooter. According to the article Should Teachers Carry Guns?(2018) published on Education week there are a lot of supporters nationwide including senators, gun-rights activists, and even education officials.
There are several strong reasons to support teachers with training to be allowed to carry firearms on school property including deterring shooters, quick responses to active shooters, and flexibility over security (Sanoni, 2018). Deterring shooters is the number one reason to have teachers who have been trained to carry a firearm. The idea of teachers carrying or having access to a firearm is not so they have access to a gun anytime they want, it is to deter shooters by having it available. One of the wisest things said about carrying a gun is “It is better to have a gun and not need it than to need a gun and not have it”. Schools are one of the only places in our country where firearms are not allowed, and in all of the other places there is a set force of police and security who carry firearms to ensure the safety of the people inside. Wayne LaPierre, the head of the National Rifle Association made a speech highlighting the fact that almost everywhere in our country there is protection for people who need it, there is security at the banks, the airports, sports games, office buildings, celebrities, and politicians, yet there is no security at our schools where we leave our children (Sanoni, 2018).
Another supportive argument for arming teachers is that in rural areas there may not be a school resource officer placed at the school, meaning if there is an active shooter it would be a set amount of time to notify authorities and for them to respond before there would be any opposition to the active shooter in a school. During the shooting at South Florida High the student resource officer never entered the building to intervene with the shooter. If there were armed teachers within a school during the lockdown there would be no wait time for police, and no delay in getting access to the school.
The last main argument for teachers being aloud to carry firearms is to give school districts more control of their own security. Instead of hiring guards or police to be stationed at a school it would be better to pay teachers to be trained to respond to an active shooter and have the necessary tools to do so. According to Mark Zalinskas, and Indiana teacher who is certified to carry a firearm (in a district which allows teachers to carry) the training he participated in to be cleared to carry a firearm required teachers to score better on the firing range than police officers. Therein lies the fact that teachers are being held to a higher standard than most everyone else to carry a firearm, they aren’t just taking a gun to school (Sanoni, 2018).
The arguments against arming teachers are all strong arguments as well. The main reasons that people are against teachers with guns is because the guns could be taken and used against the teacher or class, the cost of arming teachers would be high, teachers are not prepared for active shooting situations, and teachers with guns could confuse first responders. The oppositional side also takes lead in number. Recent surveys have shown that around 80% of the education population opposes the idea of teachers carrying guns. The three surveys that are sited in the Should Teachers Carry Guns? article are all national sites that posed the question, so the results are coming from across the nation and for each survey there were 1,000 or more respondents (Staff, 2018).
The main reason for a lack of support is the idea that if there are guns in school, students would have access to the gun and would take it from the teacher causing a huge safety concern. One topic that has been discussed within this concern is that if a student get ahold of a firearm that was in a teacher’s possession who would be responsible, or if there was a misfire, or if a teacher shot a non-shooter during an active shooting situation (Staff, 2018). Another concern with the physicality part of having a firearm within the classroom is that the likelihood of having an active shooter is fairly low but having a firearm in the classroom could raise the chances of an incident with a firearm due to child access to the weapon (Hansen, 2018). There is clear research that has been done proving that access to more guns creates an opportunity for more deaths (Lopez, 2018).
Legislation allowing teachers to carry weapons in schools has been proposed in a number of states – Tennessee, Florida, Oregon, California, Kansas, and others. In some areas, it was proposed that the teachers would be “required” to carry a firearm instead of being “allowed” to carry one. A December 9, 2012 headline in the Washington Post read, “Va. (Virginia) bill would order schools to arm teachers.” The proposed legislation would require some teachers or other staff members within each school to carry a concealed weapon (Vozella, 2012). This would mean that in some areas there would be no choice in whether or not a teacher was to carry a firearm. This would mean that teachers who do not believe in carrying a firearm would not have a choice and that individuals uncomfortable, or unknowledgeable around and of firearms would have possession of them. Even with training there would be a greater possibility of user error in cases where the person carrying the firearm did not have past experience with using them.
Another big worry associated with arming teachers with a firearm is the cost of training and actually purchasing the firearms to be carried. With schools already being stretched thin for resources to cover funding arming teachers would only draw funds away from other areas of schools such as supplies, maintenance, and extracurricular funding. The cost of a high-quality handgun ranges from five hundred to twelve hundred dollars each, now think of funding 20 percent of teachers, and that’s just the actual weapon there would also be training and maintenance costs for each individual teacher (Staff, 2018).
The last major concern with armed teachers is that in the case of an active shooter if there were to be a teacher with a firearm who opened fire within a school it might be hard for first responders to discern who to arrest in such a fast-paced situation. Also, if there were first responders on the scene who open fire at the shooter, teachers could possibly be injured (Santoni, 2018). Trump has stated that arming more teachers would be an easy way to end mass shootings, but in reality, could cause issues such as the armed teach getting killed trying to stop the shooter. During several testing simulations participants have shown that even for a highly trained person in an active shooting situation cannot react in a way to distinguish the situation. During an FBI analysis of active shooting data, 46.7% of incidents that included an active shooter resulted in a law enforcement casualty. This proves that even when a person is trained to react during these situations they are not 100% effective in stopping the situation (Lopez, 2018).
Overall, both sides have supportive arguments that are thought out and reasonable. There is more opposition on the idea of arming teachers, however, there are some who are for arming teachers. From the districts that have implemented teachers being able to carry firearms there was great support and good information reaffirming that teachers who carry do require rigorous training to be ready for high stress situations.
Hansen, M. (2018, February 27). There are ways to make schools safer and teachers stronger-but they don’t involve guns. Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brown-center-chalkboard/2018/02/27/there-are-ways-to-make-schools-safer-and-teachers-stronger-but-they-dont-involve-guns/
Lopez. (2018, March 20). The case against arming teachers. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/2/23/17041662/armed-teachers-gun-violence-mass-shootings
Santoni, M. (2018, March 27). Arming teachers: Pros and Cons. Retrieved from https://triblive.com/usworld/world/13340177-74/arming-teachers-pros-and-cons
Staff, E. W. (2018, October 12). Should Teachers Carry Guns? The Debate, Explained. Retrieved from https://www.edweek.org/ew/issues/arming-teachers.html
Vozzella, L. (2012, December 19). Va. bill would order schools to arm teachers. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/va-politics/va-bill-would-order-schools-to-arm-teachers/2012/12/19/d06ec7ae-49d1-11e2-b6f0-e851e741d196_story.html?noredirect=on;utm_term=.0314b0128ae7