Teachers With Guns? | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Teachers With Guns?

Comment Writer Simon Jones discusses whether teachers in the United States should be armed in order to protect pupils from gun crime.

On the face of this debate we would logically conclude that teachers should not possess firearms in schools because they have the potential to use them on unarmed students, thus putting students in harm’s way. Yet the debate is much more complicated than this. Schools in the United States are Gun-free zones as defined by the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994. Gun-free zones are the location of 10% of mass-shootings in the United States, because perpetrators know that they will be faced with defenceless victims and will be able to cause greater degrees of destruction. Yet victims of mass shootings account for far more than 10%. In the words of Wayne LaPierre (the executive vice-president of the NRA) after the Sandy Hook shooting, ‘they tell every insane killer in America that schools are their safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.’ Subsequently, students would be under serious threat if there was no defence provided by School faculties.

Subsequently, we must consider the threats that students may face in relation to firearms in schools. Primarily, there is the issue of students or non-students who may wish to harm students. This threat must therefore be mitigated by armed personnel on school grounds. As a result of this threat we are faced with four options: that students will be able to carry firearms and that the second amendment will be infringed on school grounds, that teachers will be mandated to carry firearms, that private security will be hired to defend students from violent threats or that schools will be undefended from mass shooters.

We must consider the effectiveness of school budgets and the effects that private security contracts would have upon the resources that schools possess
and their ability to deliver a high-quality education. It is therefore likely that schools will not have the resources available to deliver a high quality of education and retain the budget necessary for private security personnel numerous enough to protect students from gun violence.

Should students therefore be able to carry firearms in schools? This could be highly counteractive and lead to even greater violence and a higher rate of gun crime, petty playground disputes and friendship feuds could break out into incidents of gun violence. Therefore, this provision could cause higher murder rates and poor academic performance if students are constantly worried about gun crime. As a result, students should not carry firearms and doing so could lead to higher levels of gun crime. Yet we are still faced with the issue of mass shootings in schools given that private security may be unattainable.

A 2013 poll by the National Education Association showed that only 22% of teachers supported arming school staff

Therefore, we are faced with two options: that schools should be unprotected from immediate action where mass shootings have the ability to be more prevalent and cause the deaths of more innocent lives, or teachers being armed. To ensure the safety of students and the minimisation of mass shooting attempts teachers must carry arms, though the enhancement of student safety would depend upon teachers carrying out psychological evaluations to determine whether or not they could pose a threat to their students, as well as the necessity to engage in gun safety training. Of course, regulations upon the arming of teachers in schools would have to be vigorous, with teachers keeping firearms in secure locations and restrictions upon the kind of firearms that they could carry. However, support for the idea is low. A 2013 poll by the National Education Association showed that only 22% of teachers supported arming school staff. Yet the alternative to entrusting teachers with the safety of students in the US is to leave students to the mercy of citizens intent on destruction. In 2018 alone there have been 11 school shootings resulting in 5 dead and 18 injured. How can anyone support putting children on the frontline against mass shooters?



Published

14th February 2018 at 9:00 am



Images from

Airman Basic David Tracy



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