The Californian

Should school districts arm teachers?

Michael Barry and Luca Dickten

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YES – 

Michael Barry

While the gun debate is swirling over to ban so-called assault weapons, a group of people have begun pushing for all teachers to be armed.

While I don’t agree that every teacher should have a gun, I do feel that it is absurd that some states, such as California, have passed laws prohibiting teachers’ ability to carry their own firearms.

According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, 98 percent of all shootings happen in “Gun Free Zones,” places in which guns are prohibited. That includes all schools in California, federal and California state government buildings, and public places such as parks. 

People don’t like what they don’t understand. Firearms fall into this category. 

Because most students have never handled a firearm, it can be very frightening to imagine a Pre-Calculus or art teacher having a loaded gun on them.

I know I wouldn’t like it if someone came into my class one day, handed the untrained teacher a firearm, and said, “Aim this end to the bad guy, and pull the thing down there to make it go boom.” 

That isn’t what I am proposing.

Any teacher who believes he or she could handle a firearm should be placed in a program that is similar to that of a standard police officer.

The program should have firearms training and non-violent response, such as a course that trains them in negotiating with a shooter. It should be stressed that non-violent measures should always be taken over violent ones, unless the there is no other choice.

Such action could prevent any incidents like the recent one at Seaside High School near Monterey where a teacher, who was not authorized to handle guns in a school setting, misfired his gun and wounded three students in a ricochet. 

The fear that a teacher may take a gun and threaten an unarmed student, or where no student’s life is threatened is very prevalent. 

Therefore, if a teacher uses a firearm to threaten a student, they should be immediately fired and have their teaching credentials removed.

The teacher would not even have to have the firearm on their person at all times. New gun safes that are bolted directly to the teachers’ desk use both fingerprint detection and a 4-digit code, which can allow the teacher to access the gun in a matter of seconds. 

If every teacher who wishes to have a firearm gets one, we could prevent tragedies like the recent Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in which the school resource officer chose to stay outside the building in which Nikolas Cruz murdered 17 students. 

We shouldn’t have to live in a nation where teachers need to be armed. But our right to bear arms, that is to hold firearms, is a right that every person should be entitled to. 

A measure to ban a teacher from defending his/herself from an active shooter is an infringement on our Second Amendment rights. 

 

NO – 

Luca Dickten

The debate around how to end school shootings has recently reached a fever pitch and one solution our esteemed president has proposed is to arm teachers.

Putting aside the fact that most school districts, including the one where the Parkland shooting occurred, are opposed to arming teachers, there are many practical and ethical questions that the issue raises. 

First, there are the practical questions of how such a program would be implemented, how teachers would keep their weapons, and of course when and how a teacher would be able or required to fire their gun at a student.

Teachers have enough to worry about without adding the stress of having to think about  which of their students they may have to draw their weapons on.

The idea that introducing more guns into an environment to solve its gun violence problem is ludicrous.

It’s ridiculous to ask teachers to assume the extra responsibility of carrying a weapon and it’s even more ridiculous to ask students to accept the fact that their teacher’s will be able to, if they choose to, kill a person

Instead of arming teachers, gun purchase loopholes need to be closed. Law enforcement needs to address people who pose threats to students, such as the Parkland shooter. There also needs to be an expansion of the school resource officer program.

We already have the solutions to school shootings in place. These programs simply need to be expanded and refined. The introduction of armed teachers simply creates another way for students to die at the hands of someone wielding a firearm. 

It’s doubtful teachers would or want to kill students on purpose. But the introduction of guns into classrooms can lead to anything from an accidental discharge of a firearm to a student taking a teacher’s gun.

It makes little sense to solve the risk of gun violence by introducing more potential gun violence.

While it is true that with proper training teachers could be effective in neutralizing threats on campus, the need for such programs are unnecessary because there are already school resource officers on campus.

Teachers should be trained to teach and law enforcement professionals should be trained to shoot, not the other way around.

Plus, who is going to pay for all of these weapons and proper gun safety training for teachers? 

Many school districts are already strapped for cash. If they’re now required to pay for guns and training, what programs or school materials are cut as a result?

When we already have police officers trained to defuse these types of situations, it is worth asking the question: Why bother training teachers to do the same?

The idea of arming teachers can be refuted with simple logic; civilians with guns cannot be stopped by more civilians with guns.

To stop school shootings, we should never have to arm more civilians. The end lies with law enforcement and gun control, not our teachers.

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Should school districts arm teachers?