Many reasonable and rational notions have been proposed, by both the public and by politicians, to reduce gun violence. After 17 people were tragically murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida legislator’s proposed a bill to raise the age of purchasing a firearm to 21 and to mandate a three day waiting period to purchase guns. These changes seem like a rational start to trying to end gun violence.
However, the outrage of the Parkland students has also sparked even more irrational anti-gun violence proposals that seem nothing but delusional and illogical. Both President Donald Trump and certain Florida legislators’ proposal of arming teachers being one of them. Hypothetically, the idea may sound like a fair one, but realistically, arming teachers will do nothing but create more problems than it would solve.
In an event of crisis, panic and terror can cause inaccuracy while firing a gun, even among highly-trained personnel. According to Time magazine, New York police officers undergo some of the most rigorous firearms training than any other police department in the country. Yet their average hit rate of intended targets during a gunfight is only 18 percent. Expecting teachers to be any different is foolish.
The thought of a panicked, lesser-trained teacher firing a gun during an active shooting is terrifying. It seems almost inevitable that a student or police officer will get caught in a teacher’s line of fire. This only puts a lot of pressure on teachers to take out an attacker, when they already have enough pressure on their shoulders. Teachers are not security personnel. Their job is to teach children, not act as police.
Teachers are people too, and among them are some who have the potential to commit a serious crime, just as any other person is capable of doing. In fact, at Dalton High School in Georgia, not long after the Florida school shooting, police arrested a teacher who was accused of firing shots inside a barricaded classroom, according to the police.
If police officers who have gone through rigorous training have shot people when they felt threatened, teachers would be no different.
Another potential problem arises when thinking about where a teacher should keep their guns while in the classroom. Teachers could keep their guns holstered to their side, but there’s the potential that a student could lash out in a fit of rage and overpower the teacher to take their gun.
Hypothetically speaking, if a student has made up their mind to commit mass murder, there is little chance of changing it. And for such a student, it would be easier to overpower a teacher than go out and buy a gun, especially if stricter gun laws were to be put in place.
Teachers could also keep a gun locked away in their desk, but they may have to make the choice between unlocking their gun from their desk or locking the classroom door. That decision could take precious time and in an event of a mass shooting, every second counts.
It is unclear whether or not putting more armed personnel in schools will deter someone from committing a mass shooting, but my guess is that it would not. If someone has the intent to go into a school to commit such a crime, they expect to either end up in jail or end up dead. I doubt the person would care whether personnel are armed or not.
The Center for Investigative Reporting found data that suggested having armed guards during a bank robbery instigates more violence and causes more injuries than when armed guards were not on the premise during a robbery. Though the two are different situations, of course, both have the same intent and may have a much similar outcome.
Furthermore, there are other, more rational solutions to protecting children in schools than arming teachers with guns, such as, making it harder to access dangerous firearms or taking mental health issues and threats more seriously. However, the gunman in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting had been flagged and reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but nothing was done.
Other measures such as not allowing students to carry backpacks or placing metal detectors in schools have been talked about, but creating a prison-like environment where children should be comfortable could affect their learning. As a student, I would not want to learn in such an environment. And I certainly would not want some of my professors to bear arms in the classroom.
Most ideas do have the potential to make schools safer, and perhaps there are rational ways to do so, but arming teacher is not one of them.