Arming teachers is not the answer to school shootings

Karis Wilson, Guest Contributor

Editor’s note: the following opinion was submitted as an entry for Robinson Journalism’s 2021 A&E and Opinion Writing Contest.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, gun violence–specifically school–are still happening. There have already been four instances of gun violence in America’s schools since 2021 began, and a total of 55 instances in the year 2019. As a country, we need to do something about the ongoing problem of gun violence and the misusing of guns, especially in our schools. But arming teachers is not the answer.

The concept of requiring more guns to combat gun violence in our schools is an idea that needs to be put to rest. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting back in 2018 brought a new wave of gun control advocates, and new laws that needed to be put into place, specifically in the state of Florida.

At first, the Florida House of Representatives passed the “Guardian” program, as part of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, allowing districts to arm school staff, with the exception of teachers. But in May of 2019, they passed a controversial bill, allowing teachers to carry guns in schools. Although it is completely up to the school districts if they want to implement it or not, 39 districts in the state already have. 

Arguments for arming teachers state that a gun in the classroom allows them to defend themselves and their students against a school shooter, ultimately reducing and minimizing deaths. But when students’ safety is in question, we must realize that teachers are not law enforcement. They are educators. They are there to help our students learn and grow. Adding a firearm to a dangerous situation does not equal safety, and can lead to more potential danger.

Even with gun training, America’s teachers lack the tactical knowledge to handle weapons, especially in a serious situation, such as a school shooting. Nerves, disorientation and panic ensues when a teacher is faced with a situation where their students or themselves may be put into harm’s way. Having a gun in that scenario could make it even worse, and not being able to focus and aim a gun can result in terrible consequences.

Teachers should focus on teaching, not having a gun in their classroom. Students should be able to learn in an environment that feels safe to them. With the ongoing increased safety measures being implemented into today’s schools, they are starting to feel more like a prison than a learning environment. School should be a positive place where a student can learn, not an anxiety-inducing situation due to the presence of guns and concealed weapons. Guns in the hands of teachers will not fix guns in the hands of school shooters. 

Implementing a program that does more harm than good is counterproductive in dealing with the United States’ problem with gun violence and gun control. Florida is among the nine states that allow their teachers to carry concealed weapons within their school districts, which includes Idaho, Kansas, Wyoming, Missouri, Tennessee, South Dakota and Texas. Within Florida, 39 counties have implemented arming teachers into their schools’ safety measures.

People should be urging lawmakers to refocus their efforts on controlling how guns are bought and used and strengthening gun laws, not requiring even more guns to fight gun violence. More and more solutions are being put in place in America’s schools to combat school shootings and strengthen student safety, such as metal detectors and police officers on campus. But arming teachers is not, and should not be the answer to fighting the ongoing battle of gun violence in our schools.