What We’re Really Asking Teachers to Carry

The mass shooting in Parkland, Fl. rekindled the ongoing debate in our country regarding gun violence and mass shootings. Parents are scared. Students are furious. NRA members are defensive. Everyone has ideas to save us from ourselves.

But of all the proposed solutions — gun control, security measures, common sense reform — one of the most American solutions to our uniquely American problem is gaining traction and some support from President Trump…

Arming the teachers.

Now, let me just say explicitly — this doesn’t make any sense. Carrying a firearm doesn’t suddenly give you superhuman powers. It’s just a gun. If you’re in a dangerous situation without a gun, that situation is still dangerous with a gun. Police officers are killed in the line of duty every few days in the United States, even though they’re trained to use the firearms they openly carry. They don’t even have to teach algebra while they’re on duty.

Even if the teachers undergo extensive firearms training, it doesn’t change the fact that shooting is well, still very difficult. The difficulty of shooting is the basis for teaching officers to shoot to kill, not shoot to wound or shoot the gun out of someone’s hand like an old Western. According to a Firearms Discharge Report from the New York City Police Department, officers hit their targets 28.3 percent of the time.

Trained officers miss their targets most of the time, so why wouldn’t a trained teacher?

We also already have guns in many schools. Unfortunately, in the case of a mass shooting, no “good guy with a gun” successfully stopped the massacre happening inside. The armed deputy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School never even entered the buildingColumbine had an armed guard. Look at Fort Hood, even somewhere as secure and armed as a military base has been ravaged by gun violence.

History has not proven that more guns successfully prevent gun violence and save lives in the event of a mass shooting.

More guns in schools don’t make our children safer, they put them at a greater risk. There are countless instances of guns accidentally discharging in schools, injuring or killing students. An armed resource officer accidentally discharged his own firearm in a Washington-area middle school. An armed teacher accidentally discharged his firearm, injuring a student. A teacher’s semiautomatic weapon accidentally discharged during a firearms safety exercise, injuring three students. Those incidents just happened this week, by the way.

Logically, arming teachers is not the solution. But I know the motivation behind arming teachers isn’t logical. It’s emotional. Children are being senselessly killed in this country and people are scared, angry, depressed, and feeling lost in seeking change. So, let’s explore why it’s still a terrible idea from an emotional standpoint.

President Trump said an armed teacher could stop a maniac trying to attack them. Most of the country who consumed information from the news about the latest mass shooting would probably agree with this sentiment. After all, who would kill innocent children? A maniac. A monster. A terrible, terrible person.

That’s what everyone would see in the alleged shooter’s mugshot. Almost everyone. Except for a teacher.

To a teacher confronted with a school shooter, they may not see a maniac with a gun. They may see a troubled former student. They may see someone who was bullied. They may see a bright kid who was intellectually gifted. They may see a young child. Then it may be too late.

We ask teachers to care for our children, entrusting them every day. We ask them to protect them and keep them safe until we see them again. We ask them to look for signs of abuse and neglect. We ask them to be highly educated themselves and keep on the latest regulations, training, and teaching methods. We ask them to prepare our children for the next grade, college, and adulthood. Oh, and of course, we ask them to do all of this for a salary far less than what they deserve.

But by asking them to be armed, we’re asking them to care for our children until one of them approaches with a firearm. Then we want teachers to kill them.

The psychological trauma of killing is well documented. I won’t argue that killing a mass shooter in defense is unjust. But I do wonder if those individuals willing to carry are also willing to carry the psychological trauma that comes with making such a difficult decision if a shooting takes place.

Let the teachers teach. They carry enough already.

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