Would arming teachers help?

Occasionally the idea is put forth that teachers in our schools should have ready access to a firearm, just in case an active shooter storms into their classrooms shooting up the place.

State Rep Patrick Neville, who attended Columbine High School in 1999 when Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris carried out a massacre that left 15 people including the shooters dead, introduced a bill in the Colorado House this week that would allow individuals with concealed carry permits to bring their guns into K-12 classrooms.

  • The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that teacher training programs at some universities have begun addressing the active shooter drills that are now common and confronting the question: Am I required to take a bullet for my students?

Mr Neville clearly believes that having more guns in the school will actually reduce the risk of loss of life. I have given this idea considerable thought, because, like just about everybody else, I refuse to throw away any idea at all that has even the smallest chances of bringing about a solution. But as I engage in the argument, here’s the problem:

Assuming a teacher with a Glock could stop a madman with an AR-15, take the idea to the next level. When crazy people with guns can’t commit massacres on school grounds anymore because all the teachers have guns, they’re likely to turn to malls, concert venues, and other places where large numbers of people congregate, such as churches.

Then calls will be made to arm cashiers and retail clerks, then waiters and waitresses, then ministers and ushers, and so on, and so on.

Pretty soon, everybody will have a gun, and the chances of it going off accidentally increase, thus also increasing the chance that it will cause the death of a person. This probability alone would also force many good teachers out of the profession permanently. If I had to come to a workplace where concealed weapons were allowed, I would quit.

The world may take years and years to get to that point, but once the train gets rolling, it’s very difficult to stop it in its tracks. School shootings are an emotional subject because they involve the murder of children in situations that are normally far removed from murder. But teachers are not first responders; nor are they trained in police procedures. Arming teachers will inevitably lead to questions about the training their districts require in order to satisfy community members’ concerns about the safety of bringing a gun into a school building.

Maybe I’m missing something, and I encourage you to post comments to this opinion piece. Even if arming teachers is a part of a solution, though, it is not the complete solution, so we’re going to have to reject as short-sighted any comment that proposes only one solution strategy. (There is no single complete solution. Not even beefing up the mental health corps in the US is a complete solution on its own.)

About the Author

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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