Why Should Teachers NOT Bear Arms in School

Donald Trump thinks it is a great idea to let teachers take guns to school to defend their students.  On the surface it may sound reasonable to some, because defenders would be right there, ready to shoot the intruder/terrorist.  But if we begin asking the all-important “how” and “why” questions, the premise falls apart.  Guns should not be part of the teachers’ arsenal of tools to fight off a “bad guy.”

  1. Teacher training takes years of classes, student teaching, and a degree or two. SWAT training takes years of training and high-performance experience.  Are we now hiring teachers with both training program proficiencies?  Who will pay these double salaries?  How will the correct gun-carrying teachers be selected?  Who will interview these candidates?  Who will set standards and enforce accountability for ongoing education?  Who will supervise these gun-carrying teachers?
  2. Who will pay for guns and ammunition, as well as classes? When would practice occur?  What kind of accountability would there be?  If shooting performance was deemed substandard, how would this teacher’s position and salary be reduced or forfeited?  Who would decide?
  3. Students would not only be targets of the murderer, but they could be shot in the crossfire.
  4. Murderers in mass shootings are not deterred by any particular security level of “soft targets.” They often assume that they may be killed themselves in an attempt at suicide.
  5. Other countries have mentally ill individuals, but not an easily attainable supply of guns and ammunition. These countries have a dramatically lower incidence of mass shootings.
  6. Guns in classrooms increase the chances of students gaining access to guns. Troubled students could threaten teachers and other students and have the means to carry through with their threats.
  7. Guns locked in closets take time to unlock and retrieve. Response time may interfere with the shepherding of students to safe spaces or other actions specified in school protocol.
  8. A hand gun would be inferior competition to an assault weapon. Soon we might here calls for teachers to upgrade to assault weapons to “better” protect children.
  9. Even well trained officers miss their targets, especially a moving target in emotionally charged situations. How well would a teacher who is only a part-time shooter be able to hit a moving target, especially when children and other staff are moving between the intruder/terrorist and the teacher/shooter.
  10. How do we insure minority participation to assure balance in schools? How do we insure that minority teachers and children do not become seen as targets by the community?
  11. More guns, more gun accidents.
  12. The gun-carrying teacher may inadvertently distract or confuse members of the SWAT team upon their arrival, resulting in unnecessary delays or premature shooting.
  13. Vetting gun owners already has been problematic. How can we insure proper vetting of gun-carrying teachers?
  14. How do we assure parents that gun-carrying teachers are appropriately stable without violating privacy of teachers? Legitimate concerns of teacher unions and associations.
  15. Shootings happen despite established armed police officers on site.
  16. Mentally ill people have rights, and it is a difficult and time consuming process to adjudicate serious emotional disturbance that may signal possible danger to others. Mental illness encompasses a wide range of diagnoses, and certainly not all people with mental illness are dangerous to others.  Unless a temporary removal of weapons from a person considered mentally unstable is codified by law pending due process, this would be an unwieldy process that could be stuck in social services for weeks, months or more.

It is hoped that those who espouse the idea of gun-carrying teachers consider these highly cautionary points.  Professional teachers already carry more responsibility than the general public understands.  Responsibility for a gun in addition to curricular and other non-academic duties and behavior problems does not serve teachers to help children learn.  The idea of gun-carrying teachers is dangerous, poorly conceived, and unworkable.