Arming school teachers is not the answer to campus safety debate

by Maya Parella, Contributor

Debate arose on whether teachers should be armed in order to protect their students following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

This is just the latest event in the mass shooting epidemic that plagues the U.S. According to  CNN,  the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting is the ninth deadliest in the nation’s history. Out of the 34 shootings that made the list, 20 of them occurred since 2007, or the last decade.

President Donald Trump proposed arming teachers as a countermeasure to these attacks in response to the shooting. Advocates of this idea point to the alleged misconduct of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office as reason to support it. Broward County Sheriff, Scott Israel, is currently under intense scrutiny after his deputies failed to enter the building amid the shooter’s rampage.

However, training school teachers to shoot a gun is not the answer. It only serves as a temporary solution to shootings on a case-by-case basis, but does not solve the issue at its core. If anything, it perpetuates the idea that violence should be solved with violence.

Instead, there needs to be a mass overhaul on gun legislation within the U.S. This argument has been going on for years but has yet to be resolved. The fierce dichotomy that exists between pro-gun laws and anti-gun laws citizens continues to hinder any possibility of consensus on changing current legislation.

Proponents for arming at least gun adept teachers argue that doing so will deter shooters in the future, or possibly help limit the damage they may cause.

But then the question arises of where these guns will be located.

If the gun is kept locked away on campus for safety reasons, how is a teacher supposed to reach it in a time of emergency? There is no way to guarantee that the classroom or general area a shooter may target will be close enough to the emergency gun for school officials to make use of it. Keeping a locked firearm on school property becomes futile when no one can access it in a timely manner.

The type of gun the school or individual teachers are allowed to keep will affect the safety of the school. The Parkland shooter was reported to have used a .223 caliber AR-15 — a type of assault rifle. A typical handgun pales in comparison, and unless the teacher is guaranteed to be quick and well-trained, they may not be able to take down the shooter.

Conversely, having an assault-style rifle on campus poses the same problem as it does for a policeman who must lock away his gun at home so his children don’t get ahold of it. Even high school students are mainly minors, and their behavior is unpredictable.

On the other hand, if a certified and well-trained teacher with a gun is permitted to keep their firearm on their person or in their classroom, what is to ensure that a student will not try to steal it and shoot it themselves?

As of today, there are too many open-ended questions regarding the question of arming teachers. It is not realistic for any sort of legislation to be passed until every question can be answered and the safety of all those involved will be confidently upheld.

The role of a teacher is exactly that — to teach. The task of protecting schools from danger, such as shootings, falls on the shoulders of school guards and local police departments. This duty should not be placed on the shoulder of teachers regardless of whether they can handle a gun.

The best way to solve mass-shooting epidemics at their root is to enact stricter gun laws that include regular background checks, mandatory training and retraining and restrictions on the type of gun a civilian can own.

It is important to note that enacting stricter regulations on the purchase of firearms does not take away a person’s right to own one. Rather, it prevents guns from falling into the hands of an inept or irresponsible owner.