Don't arm teachers

For as “ambitious” and popular the proposition may be, arming teachers is a terrible idea.
Posted Monday, April 23, 2018 - 10:34pm

The aftermath of the shooting in a Parkland, Florida, high school intensified the debate over guns. Many Americans called upon state and federal legislators to take action curbing such violence. Some suggested raising the purchasing age of so-called “long guns,” while others argued that “military-style” guns should be banned. Despite bipartisan support for the measures, Pres. Donald Trump again raised the stakes with a controversial pitch that would bring more guns into students’ lives.

In a series of statements regarding the wave of shootings at schools, Trump suggests “highly-trained” teachers be armed on campuses. “[If teachers] have the aptitude, I think a concealed permit for having teachers and letting people know that there are people in the building with guns, you won’t have -- in my opinion -- you won’t have these shootings.” He has gone so far as to say that these teachers would be given bonuses for carrying concealed weapons in schools.

For as “ambitious” and popular the proposition may be, arming teachers is a terrible idea.

This policy will force schools to have quotas to ensure that enough classrooms are protected by “good guys with guns.” In turn, a requirement to hire educators who are gun-savvy will push out potential educators who are more-qualified, yet lack gun training. While there is a place for ex-military and trained individuals in schools, they should not be held to a higher precedence because of their marksmanship.

One major flaw with Trump’s “highly-trained” conceal-carry teachers is the presence of lax laws in many states across the country. Currently, 24 states do not require conceal-carry applicants to have any live-fire experience, as well as 12 states in which permits are not needed. In Utah, one of the 24 live-fire exempt sates, adults with conceal-carry permits can bring weapons into public schools.

Another worrisome policy, or lack thereof, in Utah schools is it is not a requirement to notify schools or the parents when an educator conceal-carries on campus. So theoretically, a school faculty member could carry a loaded weapon into school, having little to no shooting experience, with no one being the wiser. While some argue that the secrecy that these permits grant would be voided if anyone were notified, but what happens when a gun-related incident occurs?

The Salt Lake Tribune reported in 2014 that an elementary teacher shot herself while in the school’s bathroom. While this was likely one of a small number of incidents, it still seems logical that at least the school was made aware of the presence of a weapon on schoolgrounds. Parents especially should have the right to know that their children are being taught by instructors who carry lethal weapons in the halls, let alone the classroom.

Children go to public places of education to learn and thrive socially in an area that is detached from the ills of society. Likewise, it is the role of teacher to shape student’s minds and keep them safe from ideologies or mindsets that breed violence and violent behavior. It seems contradictory to arm people in schools, yet setting standards for school lunches is somehow an overreach.

Another oversight by this new proposal is the efficacy of it all. If a student wants to bring a gun into school and is successful, literally “fighting fire with fire” would not reduce the fatalities if the student were armed with a semi-automatic. What’s worse, if a student gets ahold of a concealed or stowed weapon, a shooting situation could arise in an instant.

The fact of the matter is the government and school districts should work in conjunction to fix the more pressing issues that lead to mass violence. Underfunded after-school programs and less-than-adequate school resources let troubled youth fall through the cracks. Lack of parent involvement in a child’s life also contributes to this, as bullies and social “outcasts” go unnoticed and the burden of addressing the behavior falls on the school or even the state.

If we want to fix the prevalence of mass shootings, we must increase funding for programs that promote mental and emotional welfare of communities. Extracurricular activities, better access to healthcare and healthy parent-child relationships are a detriment to a safe and welcoming environment. Bringing guns into schools will create fear and paranoia, fostering more violence and disrupts the learning experience.

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