Arming teachers will not ensure safety in schools
The debate over who should be allowed to have guns in school to protect students against Newtown-like incidents picked up steam last month with news that a Pennsylvania legislator is preparing a bill that would allow teachers who are licensed to carry weapons to do so on school property.
No doubt, such proposals are well-intentioned. Proponents of allowing teachers to carry guns in classrooms say educators need to be empowered to respond in kind if an armed assailant attacks students and staff.
Let’s pray that as he and lawmakers consider this legislation they will realize it’s just not a good idea to arm teachers.
For one thing, such proposals assume teachers are inherently stable enough to be trusted with weapons in class. Sadly, that is just not true.
For instance, former teacher William Stankewicz attacked students and staff at a Pennsylvania elementary school Feb. 2, 2001. The vast majority of teachers are stable, law-abiding citizens, but some prove themselves untrustworthy every year by, for instance, engaging in inappropriate relations with students or other crimes and violations of trust.
Should they be allowed to carry weapons in class simply by virtue of being a teacher? No, that’s just a tragedy waiting to happen. Even if such legislation required special training for teachers to carry in class, the problem of securing such weapons and assuring they stay out of the hands of students is a logistical nightmare.
A somewhat better approach to bolstering schools against attackers would be to use retired police officers to bring a security presence to our schools. If we’re going to bring an armed presence into schools — and that’s not exactly a novel approach, as some schools have had officers stationed in buildings for decades — it should be police officers or retired police officers.
That doesn’t mean that’s the best approach. And never mind the question of how to pay for such security at a time when many local schools can barely afford an adequate educational staff.
Nor does that mean police officers or retired police officers are inherently more trustworthy than teachers. Cops “snap” and/or break the law, too.
But if we’re going to have guns in schools, they should be limited to specific, highly trained personnel with law enforcement experience.
And even then, we can expect problems and accidents. For instance, a Michigan charter school security officer hired in the wake of the Newtown massacre reportedly left a gun unsecured in a school bathroom.
Let’s think about this long and hard before we impose a “solution” that might actually cause more problems.
Journal Register News Service