It’s impossible to know how many teachers carry guns to the 99,000 public schools in this country, but it’s likely the number has grown ever since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn. in Dec. 2012. The usual rationale is that armed teachers provide an effective first line of defense (“Missouri trains teachers to carry concealed firearms in class,” The Washington Times, Jun. 23).
I understand the argument for this policy, but I think it is out of touch with reality. Even teachers who undergo training are no match for professional security officers whose sole responsibility is the protection of students and school staff. Are teachers supposed to strap on sidearms or conceal them on their person? What happens if a teacher attempts to break up a fight and the students involved accidentally or purposefully grab the teacher’s gun?
Each state has different laws regarding guns on school grounds. But even if all states agreed on a gun-carrying policy, I wonder how many teachers would want to participate. I say that because not all teachers have the personality to do so. Let’s not forget that carrying a gun means the willingness to use it. The movies make it appear that defending oneself is instinctual. However, a gun is unlike any other weapon. Some teachers from military and/or rural backgrounds are far more comfortable with guns than others.
I think a better policy is for every school to have armed guards on campus. They can roam the campus and respond immediately to trouble spots. They also will know when to draw their weapons and engage in deadly force. That’s a crucial distinction with life-and-death implications.
The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner’s Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.