Want Fewer School Shootings? Arm Teachers [Opinion]
It happened again. As if we were watching a scene from some off Broadway production, we all felt the bile bubble in our throats and knots wrench our guts. How many dead this time?
Sure, the characters were different. The first act wasn’t the same. The antagonist involved wasn’t mimicking motives. This wasn’t some begrudged outcast student, nor some homicidal sociopath with a political agenda. This was a case of horrific domestic violence, the carousel of a broken record – the classroom and a gun.
A CDC study on school violence, based on data collected from ’92-2010, found that “between 14 and 34 school-age children are victims of homicide on school grounds on their way to and from school—each and every year.” That’s not taking into consideration the number of staff and other innocent bystander victims outside the “school-age children” (youth aged 5-18). That on average doubles the number of school related homicides. See the chart below:
With the latest tragedy occurring at North Park Elementary, in San Bernardino, one must ask themselves: what is the best way to prevent gun violence from echoing in the hallowed halls of academia? Any way you look at it, this has become systemic in our culture. Schools fill the backdrop to yellow police tape, while the national news throws a tizzy for a week. Then it’s on to the next topic du jour and the argument for public safety legislature fades. According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, currently, only 9 states allow teachers, specifically, to carry concealed weapons on campuses.
WHAT IS THE CAUSE?
In order to find a solution, we must accept the problem. No, it’s not the NRA and their hyperbolic speech, as entertaining as it may be. Nor is it the fault of responsible gun owners, they don’t allow kids unsupervised access to their firearms – hence the term responsible. No, it’s not about police versus the community. SROs (Student Resource Officers) are an arm of community policing, something the anti-police crowd has been cooing about for ages. Some may claim it’s the state of mental health in America, sure that plays into it if you want to look at particular cases and disregard others. But the root of the problem, the one underlying theme, is the tool – or modus operandi – being used. Yes, you guessed it, the answer is a firearm and banning guns just doesn’t work in America. Sorry, Britain. It’s too late for us. The cat’s out of that wet paper bag and this pussy’s got claws, not to mention one hell of a lobbying arm on retainer – it’s not going back.
HOW DO WE TACKLE THE ISSUE?
This begs the question of whether teachers should fight fire with fire. Should Teachers be allowed to carry concealed weapons to class? The critics have been vocal, see Huffington Post’s Op-Ed piece back in 2013, right after the Sandy Hook massacre. While School Resource Officers (SROs) are a great solution, no school district can afford to put a full-time officer in every school. Even if it were fiscally viable, the backlash of a school-sanctioned program would have the media and ACLU salivating over the PR controversy. Fascists! Nazis! No Armed Soldiers in our Schools!
WON’T KIDS JUST FIND THE GUNS?
I mean, I guess we all could find something if we looked hard enough and there were no barriers – like a human or a safe – although I’m still searching for that Bluefin Tuna that got away…so perhaps not. This argument stems from a pediatric psychological study focusing on what happens if a child stumbles upon a readily available gun without any adult supervision. This is not a sound argument applicable to the scenario of a teacher carrying a concealed weapon, which is either on their person or stored within a lockbox. Apples and oranges folks.
A TEACHER IS THERE TO TEACH, NOT BE A COP. WHAT IF A STUDENT FEELS INTIMIDATED?
Listen, bottom line, I’m more concerned with the children’s physical safety than a politically correct red herring. The educational indoctrination that takes place in schools these days doesn’t need a firearm to intimidate. That ship has sailed. Trust me, based on every collegiate announcement cork-board I’ve seen these days, those partisan views have taken a deep seeded root in the minds of our youth. Furthermore, the concept of a concealed weapon can’t exactly affect students psychologically. If a weapon is concealed, it’s not exposed nor highlighted. No child will know if there’s a Saturday Night Special or not on good ol’ Mrs. Gunderson. A kid is going to be more intimidated by getting an F on a test or suspended for cyber bullying, rather than wondering if the teacher is in possession of a firearm or not.
HOW CAN I BE SURE THE TEACHER IS QUALIFIED IN HANDLING A FIREARM?
Well, that’s simple. We already have legislature in place for CCWs. If that’s not enough, then get on your local legislator’s ass to write a simple two-page bill detailing the requirements for a teacher to possess a concealed firearm in class. Let them go through annual certified training, understand the immense liability associated with just possessing a gun, and apply to their respective State issued CCW permit. If they do all of this, then why the hell not? Now I’m not advocating that a fictional Mr. Belvedere, the curmudgeon of a high school principle, be allowed to saunter down the hall like John Wayne with a six-shooter stacked on his hip – again concealment is a requirement. No one wants a trigger-happy moron running around with a gun hoping to offset his or her low self-esteem. Let’s be clear, I am not advocating for the armament of any teacher with a pulse. Training, education in local law, and certification should be required – oh wait, those are the same requirements for every CCW permit…
WHY NOT JUST LEAVE IT TO THE POLICE?
Having served as a police officer for nearly 7 years, I can tell you this: regardless of how close a first responder is to a scene, they will rarely – if ever – be in the right spot at the right time. So, what do I mean by the right spot? It would be a position to stop an active shooter incident as it unfurls in its infancy; this is impossible due to either response time or geographic barriers. In the most critical introductory moments, an officer is still responding. Why is it rare you ask? The shooter controls the timing. Plain and simple. Regardless of motive, whether it’s a random act of sociopathic violence or a homegrown terror act, a shooter is going to think twice when they see an armed officer; a variable in their plan that is capable of stopping the threat before they can carry out their intended goal.
DON’T GUN FREE ZONES MEAN ‘NO’ GUNS?
Yes and no. Bottom line, if you’re suffering from a mental disorder – or just plain acting like a criminal – then an imaginary zone with a sign on the wall isn’t going to apply to you. The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence shapes their the K-12 disarmament argument on the same CDC Study (although an older version of the one I’m referencing), stating that the number of school homicides is minuscule in comparison to total homicides of school-aged (5-18 years old) children. Their entire argument against teacher’s carrying concealed weapons is based on the low percentages of school homicides in comparison to total homicides of 5-18-year-olds. Just a caveat, they claim 1%, but the most recent study that runs up until 2010 says between 1% and 2% of total adolescent homicides occur on school property or on the way to school. Casting all my nitpicking aside, I still have to ask you, isn’t that one or two percent worth protecting? I have yet to see a case where a K-12 teacher with a CCW caused an unjustified homicide on school grounds. In fact, according to crimeresearch.org, there are countless instances where a CCW permit holder intervenes to stop a mass shooting.
WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE US?
Basically, what we need to ask ourselves is this: why make our schools fodder for the wolves or criminally insane? If a teacher is able to go through the proper training, then why can’t they carry? Hell, based on the CDC numbers, just as many teachers/staff are getting killed as students from these shooters.
If you trust a person to watch over your kid and guarantee their safety during the school year, then why are you so apprehensive about that same person being inconspicuously armed? Just as you want teachers to have the proper tools necessary to foster an outstanding education, you should let them have the tools that can protect their lives and those of their students. Let the concept of teachers with CCWs at least sow an element of doubt into the shooter’s mindset, instead of creating a “safe space” for the wicked to reign supreme.