Arm teachers with supplies, not guns

Chase Isbell, Opinions Writer

The Parkland High School mass shooting has prompted discussions across the United States about school safety. One supposed solution to the mass murders in American public schools is to arm educators with weapons of their own, and the logic behind such a political move makes sense. A good guy with a gun trumps a bad guy with a gun. However, this is far too simple of a dichotomy on which to base such drastic life and death decisions.

Unfortunately, one cannot simply assume the educator is the good guy in every situation. Although I have nothing but endless respect for teachers and professors, one’s profession does not guarantee one’s character or mental state. Handing out dangerous weapons to individuals based on their work of choice simply makes no sense and is far too risky. The frightening incident at Georgia’s Dalton High School in which a teacher fired a gun in his own school demonstrates exactly how problematic the policy could become.

Furthermore, bringing additional guns into schools would also increase the potential for dangerous incidences. Even the most skilled individual cannot prevent the possibility of an accident. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2013 that 505 people died from firearm accidents (this, of course, does not count nonlethal accidents or misfiring).

The likelihood of accidental injury or death is simply too great. Especially in the confusing environment of a school lockdown, we cannot expect teachers and other citizens to make the same high-pressure decisions members of the highly trained armed forces and police must make. That is both unfair to teachers and unrealistic, particularly when police officers, themselves, have been known to make improper choices under such circumstances.

Additionally, we are simply creating more chaos in an already chaotic situation. How is a police officer supposed to recognize the difference between a good guy with a gun and a bad guy with a gun in a lockdown situation? What would happen if an intruder gained access to these weapons stored on campus? There are simply too many dangerous possibilities.

Finally, the group most directly affected by the possibility of such changes to school policy, the teachers, seem to oppose it. CNN has reported that three-fourths of teachers do not want to be armed. I interviewed Assistant Professor of Sociology Lynn Chin to get her perspective as a current educator, and she shared these teachers’ sentiments.

“I wouldn’t feel comfortable to be asked to carry a firearm on a school campus, nor would I feel comfortable with my colleagues keeping firearms on campus,” she said.

Chin also said she feared the possible consequences of bringing guns onto school campuses.

“With more opportunity to be in contact with a gun on a daily basis, I think the potential for accidents with firearms is higher than the potential for a mass shooting.”

Finally, I cannot write an article about teachers without recognizing exactly how unappreciated of a group they are. Not only do we expect them to shape our society’s youth into productive adults (with the bare minimum of resources, no less), but we now ask that they become militant vigilantes using weaponry they are most likely unable to safely and professionally use.

All the teachers I have had care immensely for their students and would willingly do anything to keep them safe. However, asking them to carry dangerous weapons they do not want or need is not right, especially when we refuse to increase funding or support in their workplaces. Chin also echoed that sentiment.

“We should consider providing teachers the classroom support, supplies, and resources that they need to do their first and primary job,” Chin said.

Additionally, I encourage you all to participate in Amnesty International’s walkout on March 14 at 10 a.m. Students and faculty will be walking out of their classes for 17 minutes to honor the lives lost at Parkland High School and to demand better gun control measures to save the lives of innocent students across this nation.