Ever since the firearm legislation debate began to pick up more media attention in response to the events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, various policies from every side of the aisle have been proposed in an attempt to try and prevent potential gun violence. While many of these proposed policies have been posed as a means to end gun violence in general, one policy, arming teachers, has been at the forefront of the political debate surrounding the discussion of preventing school shootings specifically.
While some might see merit in this idea, it seems to be clear that this is a policy that will be detrimental to the overall safety conditions within the educational environment.
The general problem with this stance is that the liability on the part of a teacher is simply too great. When one thinks of the risks taken by arming teachers, it is clear that this is not a risk schools should take.
In essence, those who support arming teachers are effectively saying that they are okay with expecting a teacher with the ability to end lives in a hectic and stressful situation; that they expect a teacher with properly storing, securing and maintaining control of a dangerous weapon; and that they expect a teacher to be skilled enough when using the weapon to not accidentally harm students within their environment.
Even Senator Marco Rubio, a moderate Republican, and a heavily NRA backed one at that, doesn’t support the policy, stating that there are “practical problems” with the idea, and has explained in a stressful situation, it might be unclear to law enforcement as to whether or not the teacher with the weapon is a potential threat.
The National Education Association is the largest teacher union in the country and reports that 82 percent of its teachers do not support the proposals to arm teachers. Students are also of about the idea. The Washington Post conducted a survey where 68 percent of teenagers reported being against idea the arming of teachers.
When it comes to ensuring the safety of students, risk is something that should not be taken, unless that risk is absolutely necessary, and arming teachers is in no way necessary, in fact, the idea seems to work counter to the safety of students.
Multiple unanswered questions and problems arise when it comes to the consideration of this potential policy: Where and how would the weapon be stored? Would these teachers need to trained? If so, how do we expect to pay for that? The various contingencies presented seem to illustrate the convoluted nature of a policy like this.
Everyone wants to make schools safer. As a society, it should be our goal to design the educational environment in ways that are the most conducive to learning. At the same time, we should also try to ensure our schools are safe.
Rather than rolling the die on the safety of students during school, it seems clear that there are more effective means of helping to ensure the safety of students in and out of school. The phrase “A good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun,” seems to be skipping a few steps on its way to confrontation; What if the bad guy didn’t have a gun in the first place? Policies that are preventative rather than reactive, will be doubtlessly more effective in regards to ensuring the safety of students.
Recently, the Florida State Senate Education Committee approved a bill with a 5-3 vote, which, if passed, would allow for teachers to carry concealed weapons on campus. We implore the state legislature to take our experience into account, and to see the obvious dangers, complications and confusion that likely will arise if this policy is implemented.
When legislating in regards to firearms, we should keep the safety of every individual in mind.
Gambling with the lives of students is the opposite of productive in this sense; rather, we should try and prevent incidents from happening, instead of potentially making them worse. In order to do this, our government should fund mental health initiatives within schools and trained school resource officers–worthwhile programs to place taxpayer money into, rather than a plan to arm teachers that will do more harm than good.
Editorial by The Eagle Eye Editorial Board
This story was originally published in the April 2019 Eagle Eye print edition.