Arming Teachers while in Classroom Debate
On 14th December 2012, six adults and twenty children were shot dead at Sandy Hook, an elementary school-based Newtown. Since, this incident, there has been considerable strategic debates about how to help prevent shootings in schools and other types of mass shootings in the US. The NRA (National Rifle Association) made a suggestion that a possible remedy to learning institutions is to allow school staff to carry weapons to schools as a way of protecting themselves and students (Buck et al. 1). Even as such debates continued, on 14th February 2018, there was a mass fatal shooting that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Daglous High School located in Parkland Florida, where 17 people were killed and 17 others seriously wounded (TIME). However, the idea of allowing the teaching staff to carry weapons to the learning centers has received a notable attention from the media. This essay seeks to argue that, teachers should not be allowed to carry rifles to schools as they are not law enforcers and arming them could lead to increase in gun accidents caused by the abandonment of rifles, weapon effect, threats to students and inefficiencies in gun handling as they are inexperienced.Truly, carrying weapons to school is not a new idea. A recent research shows that some schools in the US have allowed their teachers to carry concealed guns. For instance, Harrold, Texas teachers were authorized to carry concealed weapons to the school from as early as 2008 because of the school’s distance from the police station (Buck et al. 2). Although no shootouts have happened there, Harrold presents a five-year history that can be examined. However, it is worth noting that not all teachers chose to carry weapons at Harrold and this is also a very small district with only a total of 103 students. Arming teachers, therefore, forms a primary topic to examine before the trend gains time to develop a widespread implementation and consequences. This essay does not dispute the fact that carrying weapons to schools may help the teachers in defending themselves and students in times of unexpected shootings. However, it seeks to oppose the idea of arming teachers based on its disadvantages.
During a meeting with the survivors of the Florida School shooting, president Trump suggested that arming the school staff could be a solution for stopping shooting tragedies. In his speech, he highlighted some pros of arming teachers- it takes more time for security enforcers to arrive at shooting scenes, making it necessary to arm teachers to respond swiftly to shootings and that the schools will have a lot of people who are armed (TIME). He also explained that if the attack lasted only 3 minutes and it takes five to eight minutes for security officers to arrive at the scene, then a teaching staff holding a gun could bring the attack to an end as quickly as possible. However, arming teachers has several disadvantaged that are evaluated in the following paragraphs.
First, teachers have been arrested and arraigned in courts for different murders, but more commonly are engaged in extending threats to the students they teach. According to Buck et al. (5), in a particular incident, a teacher threatened to shoot all her pupils. In the same case, another teacher expressed anger to his students and told them that he would “line them up against a wall and shoot all of them.” (Bonanno and Levenson 2) This only shows how disastrous and threatening the schools would be if teachers are allowed to walk freely with guns. Advocates of allowing teachers to have riffles claim that it will help in reducing the fatalities in the learning facilities in case of unexpected shootings. However given the threats made by the teachers, introducing guns may in real sense escalate what may have remained low-level incidents.
Second, some members of the police in the US have staged their objections concerning arming the school staff. For instance, the police in Texas suggested the possibility for the teaching staff to forget and abandon a rifle where a child could access (Webb and Levels 3). Furthermore, they were concerned that if all the teachers had guns, there would be a large number of firearms held in the learning institutions. This could result in a high rate accidental shootings especially those relating to younger pupils who may not be in a position to understand the functions of a gun. In another case, the Texas police warn that if shooting erupts, the first response officers or teachers might accidentally shoot each other if they had rifles. This only proves that it is not prudent to arm teachers.
Another potential problem with firearms in learning institutions is what can be called weapon effect. This is a phenomenon whereby simply studying or living in presence of a rifle can escalate aggressive feelings (Lee 7). In the evaluation of this phenomenon, learners who were exposed to guns reported relatively higher levels of aggression towards their colleagues and conducted a more violent analysis of the performance of other students on a simple activity. The findings of this analysis point out the probable negative results for learners exposed to firearms in the learning institutions.
Also, inexperienced school staff and teachers are not likely to effectively respond to a daring shooter. During a fire exchange, the whole episode may take a matter of seconds. It involves working under extreme stress and this is why the police and other law enforcement officers train vigorously for a crisis. As reiterated by Lee (8), a trained police officer hits his rightful target less than 20% of the battle time. Therefore, untrained school teachers in terrifying and confusing situations surrounded by fearful and panicked children can hardly do better.Furthermore, teachers are not law enforcement officers. Arming teachers would mean giving them the responsibility to provide public safety. The New York Times explains that the teachers do not have the expertise to handle guns for the purposes of ensuring public safety. The supporters of arming teachers propose that they will be trained and licensed. However, the idea that school staff provided with 7, 16 or 50 hours of training on firearms, will make a non-law enforcement officer qualified to carry out public safety duties is not only an insult to the qualified law enforcement officers but also misguided (The New York Times). It is totally unreasonable to believe that a snapshot of a training will prepare a teacher to handle a gun in a situation of emergency like a trained police officer.
Last, it cannot be concluded with some level of certainty that the armed teachers will deter shooters. In addition, the schools’ gun-free statuses can also not be blamed for the bloodshed. Admittedly, schools are softer targets as compared to police stations, army barracks, NRA office, and Club meetings. However, some shooters are determined to attack schools because of personal animosity towards teachers and children (The New York Times). Others are also committed to receiving media attention and significant international reactions that such student-related incidents cause.
In a nutshell, it is apparent from the above arguments that teachers should not be armed. They are not security enforcers, they cannot be as efficient as security enforcers, and may cause gun accidents. Arming teachers may also promote gun effect in schools and encourage incidences of teachers shooting their own pupils. Admittedly, it cannot be concluded with certainty that arming teachers, will deter shooters as schools still act as soft spots for most killers compared to other institutions.