On April 20, 1999, two students went to their high school in Littleton, Colorado, and murdered 12 of their peers and one teacher. They wounded 21 others. Though the shootings at Columbine High School are not the first mass school shooting to occur, they seem to have set the stage for an emerging way kids have found to deal with their frustrations. Take a gun to school and shoot everybody.
Because of the many mass shootings that happen in schools across the United States, the federal government started looking for ways to end the violence –– or at least curtail the number of casualties by arming teachers in schools. So what are the pros and cons of allowing teachers to carry guns in school?
Unfortunately, we live in a time when every day that we send our children to school, their lives are at risk. Teachers, who spend almost, if not more, time with our children than we do, are not only responsible for teaching our children but also for keeping them safe.
Arming teachers with guns could help protect our children, and it would increase the amount of security around the school campus. However, it could also put more pressure on teachers who want to just teach and will increase their responsibility and liability for keeping the students safe. Let’s look at the pros and cons of arming teachers in schools.
- Pros of Arming Teachers in Schools
- Teachers have a better chance at protecting their students.
- Teachers may feel more confident if they carry a gun.
- Teachers can respond quickly to an emergency.
- More armed people on campus offers greater protection.
- Kids may feel safer knowing that their teachers are armed.
- Parents can feel less stressed about sending their children to school.
- School districts could save money by arming teachers.
- There appears to be evidence that arming teachers and staff in schools works.
- Most shooters turn the gun on themselves when confronted by an armed defender.
- Cons of Arming Teachers in Schools
- Teachers cannot replace security officers.
- Teachers just want to teach.
- Teachers can become targets.
- Background checks don’t reveal everything.
- Teachers will end up with more responsibility and have more liability.
- Many schools just don’t have the funds.
- People might get a false sense of power from guns.
- Anxiety and stress make it difficult to make wise decisions.
- In some states, teachers carrying guns may not be possible.
- Armed teachers or staff could be mistaken for the active shooter.
- Keeping Schools Safe
- Related Articles
Pros of Arming Teachers in Schools
Teachers have a better chance at protecting their students.
If a teacher is allowed to carry a gun, they are less vulnerable in the event they need to protect their students from an active shooter.
Teachers may feel more confident if they carry a gun.
Knowing that they have the extra protection should a school shooting occur can sometimes help a teacher feel more in control.
Teachers can respond quickly to an emergency.
If a teacher is carrying a gun, they have the potential to respond quickly as soon as they hear bullets being fired or a school alarm. It can take time for the police to arrive on the scene and for all the children to go into hiding. If a teacher is armed and the shooter enters the classroom, they can potentially protect everybody.
More armed people on campus offers greater protection.
If you have a school of about 2,000 students and only one or two armed security guards, they can’t be everywhere at all times. Yet if teachers are carrying concealed weapons, more people can respond if a threatening situation arises.
Kids may feel safer knowing that their teachers are armed.
When kids know that their environment is safe, they are more relaxed and feel free to just move around and be kids.
Parents can feel less stressed about sending their children to school.
Every day, parents send their children to school, expecting that those in authority will keep them safe. This is a possibility when reputable teachers are well-trained to handle guns.
School districts could save money by arming teachers.
After the shooting of 20 first graders and eight staff at Sandy Hook Elementary, an Arkansas school district looked into hiring an extra full-time security guard. They discovered this would cost $50,000 each year. However, if they trained 13 staff, it would be a one-time cost of $68,000. So they took this approach and got more security at a lower cost.
There appears to be evidence that arming teachers and staff in schools works.
An article in the New York Daily News stated that there had been at least six school shootings since 1997 that were averted due to the presence of an armed defender. In Pearl, Mississippi, an assistant principal intervened to prevent a riot. In Edinboro, Pennsylvania, a restaurant owner who was hosting a middle school dance put an end to an incident.
Additionally, an incident at Santee High School in California was prevented by an off-duty policeman dropping his child off at school. Three more incidents were prevented at schools in Virginia, Tennessee, and Colorado.
Most shooters turn the gun on themselves when confronted by an armed defender.
In the past, when active shooters were confronted by the police, they turned the gun on themselves and ended their own life. Not all shooters will do this, but many of them have. Thus, it’s possible that more lives will be saved if the shooter is confronted right when they begin shooting as opposed to waiting for first responders to arrive on the scene and enter the premises.
Cons of Arming Teachers in Schools
Teachers cannot replace security officers.
Teachers armed with handguns are no match against students armed with assault rifles and who have the intention to murder as many people as they can. Though they can be trained to operate a gun, protecting a classroom of children against a mass shooter is not their profession. There is only so much they can do, and they will be doing it alone, with no one to back them up.
Teachers just want to teach.
Most teachers become teachers because that’s what they love. It’s not fair to expect them to train and carry guns while trying to do the job they signed up for. Many teachers have stated that they will quit if they are made to carry guns at school.
Teachers can become targets.
Unfortunately, mass shooters do a lot of planning before they actually follow through with the act. They will already be aware of which teachers are carrying guns and will want to disable that deterrent to their crime. If they have the teachers out of the way, they can better execute their plan. And with the teachers out of the way, there will be fewer adults to protect the children.
Background checks don’t reveal everything.
No matter how many background checks a person has, it doesn’t mean they are necessarily safe. It just means they have never been caught. There are many instances where a teacher was discovered to be a pedophile or child abuser and more.
Teachers will end up with more responsibility and have more liability.
In 2018, Deputy Scot Peterson stayed outside and hid during a school shooting while a 19-year-old gunman stormed the high school halls killing 17 and injuring another 17. If a trained deputy is afraid and hides from an active shooter, how can we expect a teacher to follow through and use a gun to protect the children?
And if the teacher chooses to hide and do nothing, they will be held liable. An armed teacher can also be held responsible if another student, or the gunman, manages to get a hold of the teacher’s gun and someone gets hurt. It is not fair to put that much responsibility on a teacher.
Many schools just don’t have the funds.
If teachers are told to carry guns, schools that are already struggling financially will be required to invest in weapons, training, and extra insurance.
People might get a false sense of power from guns.
Sometimes handing a person a gun makes them feel more powerful than they actually are. Giving teachers guns could change the way they behave toward students and other teachers for the worse.
Anxiety and stress make it difficult to make wise decisions.
Knowing that there are guns in the school and classroom can provoke anxiety. Not all people like to be around guns. Teachers already have a lot of pressure. Adding guns to the mixture and the threat of danger when under attack can cloud their judgment, and mistakes can happen.
In some states, teachers carrying guns may not be possible.
Not all states allow people to carry a concealed weapon. It could be against local ordinances as well.
Armed teachers or staff could be mistaken for the active shooter.
The police don’t necessarily know who is a teacher and who is the shooter. So if they see a person with a gun, they could potentially shoot the wrong person.
Keeping Schools Safe
Both sides of the argument have valid points, especially for schools in rural areas where it could take first responders quite some time to make it to the school. Though there is a slight majority that is against teachers carrying guns in schools.
The fact that banks, airports, professional sports games, office buildings, movie stars, politicians, and even some preachers have armed protection does seem rather strange when our most vulnerable citizens, our children, are not allowed to be protected in the same way.
Hopefully, districts that choose not to arm teachers and staff will be able to come up with an alternative way to provide more protection for our country’s children.
Alexandra Christensen is a freelance writer and editor. When she is not working on an assignment, she can be found hanging around with other writers on Medium.com/@alexandra_creates where she writes mostly about raising foster and adopted kids and those with invisible disabilities.