After 9/11, there was wide support for pilots carrying or having access to a handgun in the cockpit. While I don’t support it, why is it beyond the realm of consideration for teachers to have a handgun in the classroom?
Similar to how it was considered and seemed logical to arm pilots to protect passengers, why shouldn’t the same be considered for teachers to protect our children? Many critics of arming teachers are against firearms in general, so their opposition stems from their feelings toward firearms. Conversely, many proponents of armed teachers are in favor of gun rights. As I am in favor of gun rights, I am more receptive to a solution that involves responsible carrying of a firearm. That being said, requiring or allowing teachers to carry or store a firearm in the classroom is beyond the scope of a teacher’s duty. We already ask teachers to do a lot for little pay, now we want them to take on a deranged gunman?
It is often mentioned that teachers may inadvertently shoot the kids they are trying to protect because they may not be very good shooters. That argument is based on the assumption that the teachers wouldn’t be trained to use a firearm and have to be certified. No one should be allowed to carry a firearm without adequate training. An example being cited of when trying to stop a shooter goes wrong is the shooting outside of the Empire State Building where all of the innocent bystanders were shot by trained police officers. Looking at the video shows improper engagement for the given environment. The police officers were not shooting to stop the armed suspect, they were laying down fire while trying to run for cover.
Another argument against armed teachers is that the children shouldn’t be exposed to the firearms, that the children will see the handgun on the teacher’s hip and that it will be a distraction. This argument is made without the knowledge of concealed carry techniques and assumes that teachers will have handguns strapped to their hips for all to see. In that same light, it is argued that a child may gain access to the firearm if it is in the classroom. Proper firearm safety makes this a moot argument. The firearm should always be stored in a locking container and considering the environment, I am certain special precautions will be taken to avoid unauthorized access.
While the above arguments are rational and valid, that is not why I am against armed teachers. The primary reason I am against it, apart from this being beyond the duties of an educator, is by the time the classroom staff know what is going on and react, it is already too late. When we send our children to school, we expect them to be safe, we expect them to be returned to us at the end of the school day.
Schools should be the safest place we send our children. When you are put in charge of someone else’s children, you take every precaution to return them in the same state they arrived. No one should be able to gain unauthorized entry into a school and become a possible danger to the children. Doors or windows should not be able to be forced open without alerting security personnel. There should be security officers who maintain the order of the students, as well as security, preferably armed, who are capable of protecting the students from outside factors. Many “inner city” schools have metal detectors, while they do nothing for shootings outside of the school, it offers a peace of mind that no one enters the school with a firearm. Although some people find ways around them, they generally keep metal weapons out. Visitors should only have one way into the building and that entrance should have an inner perimeter and outer perimeter.
Stopping a threat before it passes the inner perimeter of the school is the only way to stop school shootings. Calling for a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines and calling for teachers to be armed does little to stop the shootings. Fully implementing the above suggestions with fine tuning at the individual schools level will greatly reduce the chances of another school massacre.
Note: The scope of this article is limited to K-12 schools. Colleges and universities pose unique challenges as they are structured and operate differently. The openness, freedom of movement and diversity in age make these schools a challenge to identify who is authorized and who is not. For those reasons, my suggestions may not be appropriate for those settings.