I hate the fact that this country has been thrown into this discussion the way that it has. The events leading to this discussion were costly and horrific. As I have stated before we need to discuss the facts and not propaganda or demagogy. We should also examine the facts without emotion which, in light of events and the victims, seems an impossible task. Educators have now been thrust into the discussion as a result of so many schools being victimized. There is also a consideration by some to arm teachers.
In a recent discussion on BAM radio three education groups, a national teacher group, a national principal group, and a national superintendent group were asked about their position on arming teachers. The lens that we use must influence our opinions. The teachers’ group, whose members are closest to kids, was against it. The principals’ group, whose members are closest to the teachers, was against it. The superintendents’ group whose members are closest to outside forces of education supported it. These are groups and not individuals. I am sure that most educators of any title are willing to look at all of the facts and considerations before supporting anything that will profoundly affect our children. This is merely my observation.
Our military and police, in order to be armed and effective at defense, undergo extensive weapons and tactical training. It is not a single PD day at the beginning of the school year. They are continually trained and updated and not left to self-train. An ongoing battle in too many schools across this nation is to get Professional Development for teachers. Teachers want, but often cannot get the most relevant training in methods, tools and pedagogy in order to be a relevant educator. PD too often falls victim to declining budgets. It is not prioritized as it should be. Now we have a suggestion to arm teachers knowing that we need to initially and continually train teachers in weapons and tactics. How much time will it take them from their classes, and at what cost? Will we need to eliminate more teaching positions to support arming teachers?
What about police response teams answering the call to a mass shooting at a school? Most police first responders today train in sweeping schools for the purpose of eliminating armed threats. With armed teachers in the schools, response teams will need to hesitate with every encounter. This will take more time to clear a school. Time is an enemy in these situations. The other unanswered question is where are the hundreds of students when response bullets from armed teachers begin flying? Do armed teachers leave their students?
What about the mental perspective of these armed teachers? Most teachers that I know have the idea of helping and teaching in their DNA. That is what motivated them to be teachers and not soldiers or policemen. What does the responsibility of having to carry a gun to protect the learning community do to a teacher? Will these armed teachers need to undergo some sort of psychological testing to see if they can withstand the stress of this new responsibility, or do we rely on some imagined vigilante strength to carry them through?
I continue to come up with questions about arming people? Will the “Stand Your Ground “Law pop up in teacher defenses in cases where armed teachers felt that the community was threatened by an intruder wearing a hoody? The police and military have a great incidence of suicides because of the demands of their work and incidents these dedicated people are forced to deal with. Should that be a concern for schools? Will we need ongoing counseling to help cope with stress?
There are three things that all of these mass shootings have in common, Guns, a person who is not responsible for his actions, and victims. In order for the idea of defense to succeed here, it would be the goal to reduce or eliminate any of these components. The answer is not to add guns, or add shooters, or add victims. I think arming teachers may not fall in line with that vision.
An emotional response from any teacher would be “I would do anything to protect my students.” Most teachers think of their students in terms of family. This however is an emotional response and possibly not couched in reality for most educators. The idea of shooting someone in theory may be an easier task than doing it in reality. The intent may be there, but the ability might be lacking for many reasons.
I am not opposed to the Second Amendment. Gun ownership is not the problem. A gun, in the hands of a person not responsible for his/her actions, is a problem. That is complicated by the number of guns in America. We represent 5% of the world’s population, but we own 50% of all of the guns in the world. That is only one part of the problem. Maybe instead of the expense of arming and training teachers in every school in the country, we might want to use that money for a gun buy-back program. Australia spent $500 Billion dollars in buy backs with great success. Maybe each community could decrease the possibility of an illegal gun falling into the hands of a local person in need of help. Of course this is not the answer to the problem, but it is not adding to the problem either. Now we need to extend the discussion without regard to special interest groups that are focusing on their concerns and not the needs of the American people.
My only hesitation about doing a post on this subject is the scary people who are drawn to it. I encourage discussion, but I will not entertain comments claiming our president is enslaving us. I do not believe we need guns to fight our government. I will eliminate any comments from this post that are not advancing the discussion. I have never had to say that with any other post I have ever written. Some of the comments by some people give credence to the argument that not every person is mentally capable of gun ownership. By the way Columbine had an armed guard. The answer is NOT to Arm Teachers.