In the wake of the mass shooting last week at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, Donald Trump had this to say, “Let me tell you, if you had a couple teachers with guns in that room, you would have been a hell of a lot better off.”
We’ve heard this argument before, most notably after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. As a high school teacher, and as a veteran of the U.S. military, I’ve finally had enough of this argument. Arming teachers is not the solution.
Let’s look at this from a logistical standpoint. Where do we store the firearms and ammunition? In our classroom? In a safe somewhere in the school? It defeats the purpose of arming teachers only to have them run through the school during a shooting to get the ammunition, thereby leaving their students, and then to have to run back through the school to their classrooms. Let me tell you, if somebody decided to begin shooting in my school, there is no way I would ever leave my students. EVER. For this preposterous proposal to work, both the firearm and ammunition would have to be stored in the teacher’s classroom. “Hi kids, welcome back to school, it’s going to be a great year! That? Oh, that’s just my M16A2 in case of a mass shooting. Don’t you feel safer now?”
Now that the teacher has both a firearm and the ammunition in the classroom, what’s going to stop students from overpowering the teacher and starting a mass shooting? To make sure this does not happen, the ammunition would have to be stored in a safe somewhere else in the building, bringing us back to the point I made above.
In addition to the logistics of storage, we also have to discuss training. We cannot just give teachers firearms and expect them to know what to do in case of emergency; now we need to have marksmanship training and qualification. Would they have to break it down in a certain amount of time, just like in basic training? How about cleaning the weapons? That’s always a fun task with a bore brush and the little pads that leave the strings behind. Would this be in lieu of professional development? “No more pedagogy or content for us this year, instead, we’re focusing on Breathe-Relax-Aim-Squeeze.” When would we go to the firing range- the weekend, after school? It couldn’t be during the day because, oh that’s right, we’re busy teaching. Of course, once school is over we have loads of free time on our hands, so this training would be a welcome respite from sitting around with nothing to do.
If arming teachers is not the solution, which it clearly is not, then what is? More police presence in the schools? We already have one police liaison at my school, do we need to add more? If we do, who pays for that? Since Mr. Trump and his ilk would like to lower taxes, that plan won’t work; therefore, we would have to eliminate teaching positions to bring in more police officers. Why would we want more teachers, when we could have more police?
Maybe, instead of arming teachers, we should improve school infrastructure to keep students safe. Build fences around the school at least ten feet tall with razor wire at the top. After that, construct guard towers to make sure would-be assailants can be spotted before they get in. Within the school itself, it would be wise to build doors that could be shut and locked (from some sort of central command structure) to limit mobility in case of a mass shooting. Finally, we could increase police presence to get a ratio of 1 per 4-5 inmates (I mean students).
Since arming teachers and turning schools into prisons are not logical solutions, then what’s left? Gun control? That would be absurd.
Thanks for reading.