After the Parkland, FL school shooting, a lot of ideas have been thrown out as to how we can prevent this from happening again. Students from the high school are demanding change while politicians continue to offer thoughts and prayers and the younger generation continues to speak out while many older people shrug and say “There’s not much we can do.”
But the president has made a suggestion! “Let’s allow teachers to bear arms at work,” he said. He believes it’ll keep classrooms safer, and that no “sicko” with a gun would want to come into a school knowing that there are teachers waiting to shoot them if they come in.
I don’t agree with this idea, nor have I ever agreed with it.
Originally, my argument behind not wanting to arm teachers was because I had teachers growing up who I would not trust with having a gun in the classroom, primarily teachers who had a tendency to scream at their students in a sudden fit of rage. Can you imagine having a teacher like that wield a gun? I certainly couldn’t, nor would I want to. I would always think, “God help any student who pisses one of those teachers off.”
Fast forward about five years and several school shootings. I am now a substitute teacher and the president has proposed arming all teachers. From all of the knowledge I have gained from subbing this past year, I have only become more firm in my belief that arming teachers is a horrible idea, but I have new reasoning behind this certainty.
First, let’s talk about the teachers themselves. They are underpaid and overworked. They have to provide their own supplies for the classroom, make lesson plans, and keep their classes busy for 180 days every year. Now we suddenly expect them to be able to wield a gun if they need to? Whether you’re looking at a kindergarten teacher or a high school calculus teacher, the idea of having teachers know how to shoot one of their students if they need to on top of trying to provide an education for the other 20-some students in their class is beyond ludicrous to me. Some teachers may disagree with me, but I just can’t imagine the stress any teacher would have to be under knowing this.
Then there are the students. Let’s eliminate the potential for outsiders coming into a school and look at the possibility of a student shooting at their peers. A lot of kids these days deal with some kind of mental health problems in today’s world, but even if you take this statistic away, it’s hard to know which student will be the one to lose control one day. Sometimes they just deal with too much on a day-to-day basis and end up snapping.
Here’s a story to explain what I mean. Just the other day, a local teacher at the middle school I sub at was threatened and they ended up closing the school down for the day. After working with the kids at this school for over a year, I could easily speculate on who did it, but it wouldn’t do me any good. Not only is it not my place to wonder these things but I also just don’t know for sure who it would be. Even the well-behaved kids or the kids who make genuine connections with their teachers have off days and can be pushed to a limit like that.
Even if a teacher in a life-threatening situation was armed, there’s no guaranteed safety from being harmed. When kids get angry or upset, they have the tendency to throw things, or hit and kick the people around them. If a student knew there was a gun nearby that they could get to, there’s an inevitable chance that he or she could grab the gun and turn it on their classmates, teachers, or principal. Why would we want schools to potentially be at a higher risk of experiencing a shooting?
Now, as a sub, I have to wonder about what my role in this potential situation is. Will I be forced to carry a gun to work too, or will I have to use one that a teacher has provided? Will I get the same lessons as teachers, or am I on my own? And how much will this stuff cost me, if anything? I have so many questions regarding this sort of thing and I don’t know if anyone has bothered to think about this.
On top of that, what if I were to end up having to shoot a student? How would that impact any teacher, substitute or full-time, mentally? How would it impact the students? Would the schools provide counseling for those impacted? What if a teacher or student decides not to come back? How would the school handle those changes?
Maybe I’ve looked into this too deeply. Maybe the supporters of this idea haven’t looked deeply enough into it. Either way, I have always felt that there’s a lot to be considered when we think about arming teachers, and now that this idea is being presented as a plausible solution, I believe that these questions need some solid answers.