At Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, it was normal for our teachers to temporarily disregard the strict demands of curriculum to incorporate the discussion of current events. To our teachers, that was important. To us students, it was just another classroom pastime. The topic of gun control was not a foreign subject to our classrooms, but never once did we believe our school would become the epicenter of this debate. Yet, as we grieve our fallen classmates and staff members, politicians address this as “another mass shooting” and entertain the idea of arming teachers.
For us, survivors of the Stoneman Douglas Massacre, arming teachers is a horrific idea for the following reasons:
- Teachers cannot replace officers.
By arming teachers, we are setting up a playing field that is automatically uneven. A teacher armed with a handgun against an intruder whose intent is to murder people with an AR-15 rifle, as in the case of Stoneman Douglas, is a losing fight. Teachers with inferior equipment, no back-up and limited training will never be as good as trained officer.
- Teachers want to teach.
Teachers joined their profession in order to do what they love: educating children. Their main priority is to nourish a learning environment, not to be an armed protector. It is wrong to expect teachers across the nation to be okay with carrying weapons. The total majority of our beloved teachers do not want to carry guns and have told us they will quit if they are forced to carry guns.
- Teachers will become the main targets.
Many school mass shooters have some experience with their target school and will have prior knowledge of which teachers carry guns, even if they are concealed, and will target these teachers in order to get rid of their main deterrent. This in turn will leave the students of these teachers without their main source of protection. Many school shootings are carried out with careful planning and detail, and students can easily assume which teachers are potentially armed.
- Armed teachers are not a deterrent to suicidal mass shooters.
The argument that gun-free zones necessitate more guns in order to deter the shooter is untrue. The Stoneman Douglas massacre was a unique instance where the shooter did not commit suicide. Nevertheless, in many recent mass shootings, including Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech and Columbine, the shooters were not afraid of death. They came prepared to die, taking as many students with them as they could. Thinking that armed teachers would deter a shooter is ludicrous and untrue.
- Background checks aren't perfect.
Passing a background check does not ensure a teacher is not a potential criminal. Teachers go through background checks but in rare cases teachers turn out to be pedophiles, child abusers and more. There is even a case where a University of Alabama in Huntsville professor shot her university colleagues.
- Teachers will have increased responsibility and liability.
Accidents happen more often than mass shootings. Who is going to take responsibility if a gun is to accidentally go off or is used by a student who somehow takes a teacher’s gun? If a teacher decides to hide and not fight, is he liable? Would they be accused of not doing their job like those Broward Security Officers at our school? Any if a teacher accidentally shoots a student? There are too many ways to “point fingers” if guns were to be given to teachers.
- Schools already lack funding.
Public schools face a desperate lack of funding; we actually ran out of paper one week. Instead of investing in weapons, training and insurance, why don’t we make sure classrooms have sufficient supplies and textbooks first? After all, the primary purpose of a school is to educate youth.
- The protection of students should come first.
The safety of the students, during those crucial couple minutes that a mass shooting occurs, is by far the most important thing. Arming educators puts teachers in a dilemma: secure and protect their students or attempt to pursue and stop the shooter. This is an impossible moral dilemma to put our teachers in.
- Guns can cause people to have an illusion of power.
Giving people guns makes them feel more powerful. Introducing guns into the class environment could completely change the classroom dynamics and can potentially change teachers’ behavior towards students and other teachers, for the worse.
We welcome the notion of tightening security on campuses; if anything, it is much needed. Turning teachers into armed officers, however, operates under a completely different realm of logic. In essence, arming teachers only addresses the tip of the iceberg for an issue as widespread gun violence in America. Arming teachers does not account for the mass shootings that have occurred at concerts, nightclubs, movie theatres, churches or any public place for that matter. It does not account for the deaths that occur on a day-to-day basis on behalf of gang and domestic violence. Mass shootings are a devastating issue that unfortunately only occurs in the United States, so it’s time to stop making excuses and address the problem for what it is.