When It Comes To Guns, We Can't Fight Fire With Fire
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When It Comes To Guns, We Can't Fight Fire With Fire

Arming our educators is not the answer to gun violence in schools.

When It Comes To Guns, We Can't Fight Fire With Fire

It has been nearly a month since 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz pulled the trigger that took the lives of 17 students and faculty members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida. This massacre joins scores of other mass shootings in our country's recent history, highlighting the urgent need for protective measures against gun violence in schools and on campuses.

Speaking from the White House, President Trump has proposed a course of action that would include training and arming teachers with guns in classrooms. While the specifics of a course of action should be open to fair debate, this idea that teachers should be required to undertake security enforcement roles in addition to teaching is distracting, unaffordable, and it's flat-out dangerous.

Guns were invented to be weapons. By design, they are killing machines. Even in the hands of "good guys" guns will not stop violence by those intending to inflict harm in the first place. More killing machines will result in more kills. More guns, regardless of whether they are handled by trained professionals intending to protect, will only result in more gun deaths.

A school is a place where children are meant to grow and learn about the world around them. This growth can't occur if there aren't sufficient funds to pay for learning materials, quality teachers, and other essential school resources. Intensive firearms training would not be free. The funds would have to come from somewhere. Would this be an additional budget strain on often underfunded public schools? The White House has yet to propose offering states any new funding.

Cuts to core education budgets could provide the extra funds needed for training. But at what point does quality education become less important than training an algebra teacher to fire a rifle?

Even if the funds did exist, teachers carrying concealed weapons pose an extremely high risk to school safety. Accidental misfire is always a possibility, as well as the potential for the weapons to be found by a student or another co-worker who may have bad intentions. And what signal are we sending to children when their teacher has a sidearm in a holster? Is this really the solution to the problem of kids being increasingly desensitized to the idea of deadly violence, or attracted to the allure and power guns? By introducing teachers with guns to school, is it really less likely that students won't be drawn to bring their own guns to school, especially in high-crime precincts? Or are we simply setting up our schools not for academic focus or success, but for the Wild West?

But even without the threat of negligent discharge or a weapon getting into the hands of the wrong person, guns create an atmosphere that is not conducive to classroom learning. A safe, positive learning environment is essential for success in school. A school is not the same as a prison. Teachers are not armed guards and students are not prisoners. Students should be focused on what is being taught rather than worrying about somebody grabbing the gun in the room.

Students should never have to wrestle with the distraction of a dangerous weapon in the classroom or in the school, and neither should teachers. Law enforcement personnel are trained to carry guns with a heightened sense of alertness at all times. If educators were required to operate in this state of mind while also teaching, it would impede their ability to provide quality education.

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