Teachers: Should they be armed?

While arming teachers can help stop a school shooter in the act, it still does not eliminate the student's ability to bring a firearm to school

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Shelby Hudson, JAG editor-in-chief

Since the 1999 Columbine shooting, there have been 262 school shootings total.  Like clockwork when these tragedies happen, President Obama and liberals shout “control the guns” while conservatives strike back with “2nd amendment.” And, in that cycle, there are those who say “arm the teachers.”

The idea behind arming teachers is to have an immediate response to when an incident begins, instead of waiting on law enforcement to arrive. In most cases by the time help arrives, the damage is already done and the shooter has maybe taken their own life too. In 2014, to respond to the Sandy Hook shooting, some Missouri school districts began training teachers to conceal and carry while teaching. Only district administrators, other teachers in the program and local law enforcement officials will know who is carrying. Also, students are now prohibited from hugging their teachers in case they detect a firearm.

While this is smart, if prohibiting close physical contact is not enforced, the detection and awareness of a teacher’s firearm could put him or her at risk to being a target by a student who desperately wants that firearm. Also, the teachers are given a special kind of bullet that can only hit one target and prohibit it from passing through the intended target and wounding another student. While I am so thankful that school districts that have followed through with this program have taken in all of these possibilities and made it relatively safe, arming teachers also costs over $17,000 per school district.  Many schools in America, especially in lower-income areas, just don’t have the funds to commit to that.

An extreme version of the arming teachers argument is that every single teacher should be armed. Steve Siebold wrote, “It’s the way it has to be and if teachers aren’t comfortable with [being armed] they’re going to have to find a new profession.” I am 5 feet 7 inches and about 117 pounds, and struggled with keeping my body from moving in response to the kick of my father’s rifle when he took me shooting eight weeks ago. Do you really expect my 5-foot-4-inch teacher who I mistake as a student to handle a firearm and perfectly respond to a school shooter scenario? I don’t think our teachers who are not appropriately paid are paying off student loan debt because they wanted to also be required to conceal and carry while they teach us how to write Jane Schaffer essays.

Also, if every teacher in the school were required to carry a firearm, that would mean 94 guns would be in the building and students would know where to get their hands on one. If we resort to arming teachers, I vote for what the Missouri school districts are doing, which is only arming a couple teachers, giving their staff members the choice to be armed and not disclosing who is.  

But, even with some armed teachers out of dozens, arming a teacher does not eliminate the possibility of a student bringing a legal pistol, rifle or even military-grade weapon (which someone can currently buy from Cabelas) into school. It also does not eliminate the fact that student shooters most likely do not fear dying themselves, because they want to be martyrs or have become aware of their actions and feel guilty. An FBI study shows that in school shootings from 2000-13, 40 percent of the 160 incidents had shooters take their own lives. 

While I agree with the argument of the teacher being able to stop the student before he or she hurts anyone or any more people, the fact of the matter is, it is still possible for the student to bring a weapon into school.

If we spend money on arming teachers, we should also spend money on educating students about how to respond to school shooter scenarios. Yes, we have all learned that we need to run as fast and as far as we can go. Most, however, don’t know that although shooters might bring dozens of rounds and clips of ammo with them, they are still going to have to reload. So, students have a 10-30 second window, depending on how good the shooter is at reloading, to do something to stop them.

In the Umpqua college shooting, the shooter was changing his clip while he bought time and told students to stand up and if they believed in God. There was not a better time than that to overtake him then, when his weapon was not able to fire (speaking from a standpoint of not knowing he had three other guns on him). Yet, when faced with a man flailing around a gun, I might be rooted to my spot too. Thankfully, my classmates or I have never had to make that decision.

Please encourage your peers, teachers, families and government officials to not just end this discussion with “those families are in my prayers” once again. We as a nation need to have a healthy and civil discussion on safe gun practices and ownership, which firearms are deemed appropriate to own and what we can do to protect our schools in the most affordable and effective way possible. Lets work together on this.

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