Teachers have a great deal on their plates . . . there are the day-to-day responsibilities of reading, writing, and arithmetic. This is coupled with meeting the stringent guidelines of No Child Left Behind, improving standardized test scores, accountability, and consenting to President Barack Obama’s “college- and career-ready” standards. In the wake of the tragedy in Sandy Hook as well as other school and mass shootings that have plagued our headlines, a call to arms for teachers has gained momentum. Surprisingly, the outcry for arming teachers had come from legislators. Governor Rick Perry of Texas is a proponent for arming teachers and stated that if teachers have conceal and carry permits, they should be permitted to carry their firearms into their schools. Additionally, lawmakers in six states, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Minnesota and Florida, are drafting legislation to permit teachers to carry a firearm in an effort to reduce the risk of another mass school shooting.
So, should we arm teachers? In the wake of these tragedies the concept has drawn both criticism and support. A few states, including my home state of Missouri, are outlining legislation that would allow teachers and administrators the capacity to carry firearms on campus. In my research for this blog I came across an article in the Huffington Post with a startling revelation that in 18 states teachers are permitted to carry firearms with written permission from an administrator. It was alarming to discover how many states currently permit teachers to conceal and carry a firearm in schools. One question, however, remains: Will this solve the problem?
Opponents to this concept argue that arming teachers contradicts the overall goal of education: to teach children how to resolve conflicts without violence–this of course in addition to the norm of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Additionally, arming teachers and administrators does pose its own risks, similar to those discussed for increased gun control: securing accurate background checks, mental capacity and proper training. Another concern is whether the firearm is concealed or carried, what measures are school districts prepared to take to prevent students from gaining access to these firearms brought into the school by an educator?
In wake of the multiple recent mass shootings, President Obama has made gun control a priority for his second term in office. Surrounded by family members of those who lost loved ones in the Sandy Hook shooting, the president signed 23 executive actions to address issues of gun control, mental health, and school safety.
The National PTA released a statement following the January 10 school shooting in California outlining its stance on gun control. Whereby they did not address arming educators, the stance focused on gun control, integrating what is outlined in President Obama’s gun control proposal.
We can all agree that safety in our schools is of the utmost priority, as is providing a sound, successful education to our children. But at this point in time these executive actions and proposals sent to Congress seem like mere words on paper. Will these words provide the effect they set out to ensure: safer schools, malls, movie theaters? That is difficult to predict.
What we have come to experience is that although teachers and administrators were not or are not armed, their first priority remains protecting their students at the cost of their own lives. This should not be what our children have to worry about let alone experience, yet it’s become an unfortunate reality.
What do you think: Should our educators be armed with more than the tools for teaching our children? Should our teachers be permitted to conceal and carry in our classrooms?