Yes, this is political, but I feel strongly about this issue, & I have a lot of experience & knowledge about schools & teachers. Please don’t assume that I’m “anti-gun”. I’m not. I’m just anti-bad idea.
There have been calls in recent days to arm adults in schools as a way to prevent further tragedies like the one in Newtown. For instance, the chief of police in St. Louis County, where I live, said just this yesterday (see http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/arming-school-officials-among-ideas-st-louis-county-police-considering/article_c9d62ba7-4505-51bb-90d9-51d71f99778a.html). And Tennessee legislators are pushing the idea (http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/12/tennessee-armed-teachers.php?ref=fpnewsfeed). I wrote this in response. Please feel free to print whatever you find useful.
I’ve been a professional teacher since I was 21 (I’m 44 now). In that time, I’ve taught at middle schools, high schools, community colleges, & four-year universities. I’ve taught at public schools & private schools. I’ve taught kids, young adults, adults, & the elderly. I’ve taught the gifted, the non-gifted, & those with various learning & emotional disabilities.
I’ve known many teachers & administrators & staff. I’ve known thousands of students.
Here are some questions I have for those who want to arm teachers, administrators, & staff:
Most of the teachers & administrators I’ve known were great to excellent. Unfortunately, some were anything but. Some were emotional wrecks, a few were alcoholics, a couple were cruel, & a few were just plain nutty. Should we arm all teachers & administrators? If not, based on what criteria? Won’t it be a problem if the English department is armed but the Science department is not?
Who’s going to pay for these guns? Who’s going to pay for the bullets? Who’s going to pay for training the teachers? How often are teachers going to be required to be gun- & carry-certified? Who pays for that? Who makes sure the guns are in good working order?
Which guns are teachers supposed to get? Should everyone have the same one? Or is each teacher allowed to pick his or her preferred weapon?
Will this be required of all teachers? What about those who object? What about those who are disabled? What about those who are pacifists? What about those who have religious objections? What if the parents don’t like it? What if the students don’t like it? What if a teacher quits or has a breakdown (I’ve known some that have had nervous breakdowns during the schoolyear)? What happens to his or her gun?
Will this be required of all schools? What about private schools? What about parochial schools? What about home schools?
Where do we keep our guns? In a safe in the administrative section of the school? Who’s going to pay for such a safe? Who’s going to have access to such a safe? All the teachers? So every teacher can open the safe, which means they have access to all the guns? If each teacher has a different safe, that’s going to cost a lot of money. Who’s paying for all those safes? If you don’t want every teacher to have access to those guns, then we need a guard for the safe & the guns. Who’s going to guard such a safe? Who’s going to pay for that guard? Wouldn’t that safe be an attractive target for robbery outside of school hours, since surely some people will leave their guns there?
If all the guns are locked up for safe-keeping in a safe in the administrative offices, then how is that going to protect students & teachers if there’s a sudden emergency? Is everyone supposed to stop what they’re doing & run down to the safe to get their guns? And then, militia-like, use tactical maneuvers to defeat an intruder?
If we’re not going to keep our guns in a safe in the administrative offices, then we need to store them someplace else safely. Where? In my room at school? Is there to be a locked safe in each room? Who’s going to pay for that? Who has copies of the keys to those safes? What happens when a teacher loses a key? What about teachers that move from room to room?
If my gun is stored in a safe in my room, how is that going to protect me if there’s a sudden emergency in my room? If an intruder shows up with a gun, I’m not going to have time to get my gun out of my safe to use it. If the intruder attacks another part of the school, what do I tell the kids? “You wait here. I’m going to get my gun & go after the bad guy?” Or instead “You run out of the room & find your way out of the building. I won’t be with you. You’ll figure it out. I’m going to get my gun & go after the bad guy?” Or “Prepare yourself, everyone—I’m going to shoot the bad guy if he comes in our room?” Or am I supposed to stay with the kids & try to help them? Do I take time out to get them in a safe place or position, calm them down, & then get out my gun? Will that help calm them down?
If we’re not going to keep our guns in a safe in our room, then are we supposed to keep our guns on our persons at all times? Do you really want a kindergarten teacher to have a gun strapped to her at all times? Is that safe? How would the kids feel? How would the parents feel? How would that teacher feel? Think back to the teachers you had in grade school, middle school, & high school. Would you want all of them to be carrying guns on their persons at all times? I’ve seen teachers drop expensive lab equipment on the ground & break it. I’ve dropped valuable hundred-year-old books on the ground. What happens when a gun is dropped in a classroom?
Think again about the teachers & administrators you had in school. Do you really picture them all coming out of their rooms, guns blazing, to shoot an intruder? In a chaotic situation like a school shooting, do you think a bunch of teachers & administrators are going to be able to take down an intruder without hurting themselves and other students, teachers, staff, & administrators? If they’re supposed to wait in their rooms & only shoot an intruder that comes in, again, do you really think the teachers you had in school could do that? A tiny few might, but more than that? Some of them? Most of them? All of them?
If the intruders aren’t immediately taken down, what do you picture happening? A gun battle? What happens when the first responders show up & a gun battle is taking place? Do you think the police will be able to easily tell who is who in such a situation?
Are teachers required to be armed at all times while attending any school function? Sporting events? School plays & concerts? Debate trips? What about field trips?
What about the staff at a school? Are the janitors, cooks, & nurses supposed to be armed too? Again, who pays for their guns, bullets, & training? Think back on the janitors, cooks, & nurses at your schools. Do you want them armed? Would they help protect the school?
These are some of the questions I’ve had. I’m not convinced that those who advocate arming adults in schools have thought through almost any of them.