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Educators have reservations about gun legislation

Posted on 04.29.2013

The Indiana House of Representatives passed legislation in early April that would require one teacher in every Indiana school to carry a concealed weapon. Although this legislation has been sent to a summer study session and requires the approval of the Indiana Senate, this issue has prompted concern among Indiana educators.

The bill comes in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, amid debate regarding gun control laws and school safety. The teacher required to carry the gun would first have to pass a training course.

Principal of Southport High School Barbara Brouwer said that teachers would not be the best individuals to carry guns, even with special training.

“My view is that police officers go through so much training. It’s not just about firing a weapon. It’s psychological training. It’s all kind of things like that,” Brouwer said. “I want a trained person in this building. That’s his job or her job for safety and security.”

Junior English education major Kori Martin completed her practicum at Southport High School. She said that as a future educator, she thinks the idea of teachers carrying guns would cause more hassle for individual school districts.

“I [would] even hesitate to bring one gun into the classroom, into a teacher’s hands, rather than a security guard’s hands or a police officer’s hands, only because it would need to be very, very heavily safeguarded,” Martin said. “It would have to be placed so that the students couldn’t get it or have any idea which teacher had it, so they would have no way of accessing it.”

Martin stressed that deciding who would carry the gun would also have to be kept secret from students. But Martin also said that because many students are tech-savvy, some students could hack into email accounts to find out who had the gun.

Brouwer said that she had more reservations about teachers having guns than about administrators having guns, because the former could make it easier for students to get ahold of a gun.

“An administrator is not in the classroom with students, and obviously our teachers are. It goes back to the question about response time,” Brouwer said. “If we have the designated teacher, and they’re at one end of the building, and there’s a police officer coming in at another end of a big building … I just don’t think teachers having a weapon is a good idea.”

Martin said that another issue concerns whether armed teachers would create feelings of safety or more anxiety among the students. According to Martin, too much anxiety could harm the classroom environment.

“It would depend on which teacher had it,” Martin said. “If there’s a teacher who’s there because they think it’s an easy job and aren’t much interested in the students, and they were the ones who had the weapon, it would cause more anxiety for the students because they wouldn’t trust that teacher. It would have to be someone who is very level-headed and very trusted by whole community of the school.”

At Southport High School, Brouwer said that the students are good about going to administrators if they notice another student is acting unusual or if something seems odd.

“Our best safeguards in this school are the kids in this school,” Brouwer said.

Brouwer said that as much as educators and administrators strive to prevent them, tragedies unfortunately are sometimes inevitable. She said, however, that a student has a higher chance of being in a car accident than being attacked at school.

“There is absolutely no way to safeguard every single student, every single school, from every possible thing that could happen,” Brouwer said. “We just have to be reasonable and try and make certain that we have as many safeguards in place as possible.”


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