His mother was surprised. This was something new; he’d always felt so grown-up in his third-grade class. “Why not, Tim? Are kids mean to you?”
“No. Our teacher has a gun and I’m scared.”
Imagine being a child trying to learn when the teacher, an authoritarian figure if ever there was one, had a gun. How terrified would the youngster be about giving a wrong answer?
Tim’s teacher has responded to pressure to arm teachers in public schools. It’s a terrible idea for a host of reasons; Tim’s problem is only one of them.
Teachers will not be sufficiently trained.
Teachers in stressful situations are likely to be nervous, increasing danger to innocent children.
Teachers holding guns will be at risk as police charge in, looking for someone holding a gun.
Teachers at times will not adequately secure the weapon.
Teachers at times will inadvertently leave a gun in a bathroom or elsewhere out in the open.
Teachers might accidently leave guns overnight in the school, increasing the odds of theft.
Teachers might be involved in relationship problems that play out with an available gun.
Teachers could be overcome by aggressive students wanting to settle a score, either against the teacher or another student.
The chronic teacher shortage due to low pay will be exacerbated as many will refuse to work in a school with colleagues carrying.
If you think any of this is far-fetched, you don’t follow local news. Actions paralleling these scenarios have already occurred repeatedly in schools or work places, which, of course, a school is.
Don’t let anyone try to convince you none of these negatives will happen because the teachers will receive special training. They might put in a lot of hours, but in no way does it compare to the continuing instruction police receive, and even law enforcement officers make mistakes, especially in stressful situations.
Furthermore, training doesn’t eliminate natural human flaws. Have you ever forgotten to lock your car or home, or left your phone somewhere? We all have these lapses. Owning a gun will not eliminate them. But the consequences of a lapse involving a gun are frightening. Even a local former police chief had her gun stolen because it wasn’t secured properly. An unsecured gun is an invitation to a curious child.
What about staying cool under an attack? Who of us can say how we’d react. Some might be calm, the epitome of a TV hero. I suspect most of us would be nervous. Do you want a nervous person holding a gun? Besides, teachers are designed to care, not to kill.
The angst of teenage life is legion. Depression and anger taunt the hormonal makeup of the age group. Available guns represent potential disasters.
Of course, the push for arming teachers arises from the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Who could possible argue with making schools more secure? Well, no one.
But the question is, would arming teachers make them more secure? The latest figure I could find showed Florida has 4,517 public schools. Trying to determine the number of school shootings in the state in 2018 has proven elusive. One study showed there had been 14 since 2010, but that seems low to me. There’s even a debate at what should be called a school shooting, but I believe anytime a gun is fired on a campus, that’s a shooting. Only one has been the mass type that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and that’s the type the new regulations are geared to deal with.
So one mass shooting. Guns allowed at 4,516 other schools. It wouldn’t take many “events,” accidental or intentional, to counter the advantage of thwarting another mass shooting.
It seems to me people who are drawn to teaching should be the polar opposite of those who are drawn to guns.
Leave protection to the professionals. If that’s difficult because of financial constraints, have the courage to raise taxes to solve the problem. Don’t use arming teachers as a cost saving measure.
As for me, I would worry about the gung-ho teacher who is willing to carry a gun. I don’t think I’d want him instructing my kids.