Arming teachers is not a solution

We should work to find a better solution to changing current gun control laws.

by Trent M. Kays


I don’t know what to make of this world sometimes. The amount of violence disturbs me. I understand violence, in its various forms, is part of existence. It is not exclusive of humanity, but no other organism has the ability to limit it like humans. With this ability comes a responsibility to our fellow humans to behave peaceably.

However, I’ve always considered humans capable of more. I’ve always considered humans capable of something great. Yet, the more I watch the present unfold around me, the more I find myself disgusted with it. As one partly dedicated to a life of observation, the maladies of humanity rarely escape me. This is a life made much easier by the pervasiveness of media. I learn about revolutions and mass death via Twitter before TV news networks even know what’s happening. The current trajectory of humanity is hyper-observed, hyper-dissected and hyper-critiqued. I’m not sure if this is a positive or negative thing, more than it is just a thing.

Thus, it was with a heavy heart that I read about the shooting deaths of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012. I’m no stranger to mass death. It happens all the time and we hear about it constantly. All death is tragic. It doesn’t matter if it happens in an accident, purposefully or on a mass scale. Death is heartbreaking. But the death of children holds a special place in my heart — a locked off place. It’s a place I don’t want to go because it is immensely and uniquely painful.

When I heard of the death of those elementary school children and adults, I wept. I understand hate and I understand depression-induced agony. But to murder innocent children while they attend a place meant to be safe is beyond reprehensible. It’s soul-crushing and defies understanding. This happened. This is real. This mass murder didn’t happen in a warzone; this happened at home in the place where children are free to play, learn and be happy.

As with every gun-related incident, pundits across the political spectrum seized upon this opportunity to pitch their position on gun control. This debate is old and well worn. Perhaps the most egregious notion arising from these debates is the arming of teachers. The idea being that if teachers were armed, they would be able to head off mass murder. That’s the reason most become teachers, right?

Arming teachers is one of the worst ideas to arise out of the gun debates. Personally, I am quite capable with firearms, but I wouldn’t trust anyone who carried firearms on a school campus. A school is not a militarized zone. A school is not a compound. A school is a place of learning. If I had wanted to have ready access to firearms all day, I would have become a police officer, not a teacher.

What is it we want to create? I don’t want my future children to grow up under the shadow of armed guards with their every move scrutinized. This is not the America I want for my children. This is not the type of experience I want for my students. Would I feel safer knowing my teacher was carrying a handgun to protect me? No. Why? Well, I wouldn’t feel safer because firearms require training, important judgment calls and constant vigilance. While teachers have these things in several ways, none pertain to firearms. A fidgety, distracted, underpaid, overworked educator is not the best person to be armed. Educators have enough to consider without having to worry about accidently shooting their feet off while trying to discuss course content.

I’m afraid the paths we’re on now will inevitably lead us to a Judge Dredd-style, violent and harsh existence. We’ll live gloomy firearm-induced lives with “street justice” doled out at every opportunity. Is this the type of existence we want for our children, our students and ourselves?

While the jump from arming teachers to a police state is big, it’s not so far-fetched. We already have everything needed to create that future. The point is that we shouldn’t allow firearms to slowly creep into spaces meant to give children a chance to be children. We have the occasional trained armed officer, and that’s what we should expect. We shouldn’t expect our teachers to be Dirty Harry wannabes daring punks to make their day. The very idea is laughable at best.

Fundamentally, gun control is necessary. It’s necessary just like driving tests and licenses are necessary. The hyperbole surrounding gun- control arguments is ludicrous. One side thinks that the government is going to take all their guns away, while the other side thinks guns are no longer needed. Both sides are misguided and unrealistic. The government isn’t going to take guns away from citizens, and guns are important to many facets of rural American society.

What’s necessary is some type of control. The sad fact is we will never know whether more or less gun control would have saved those children. But, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to control those firearms that make mass murder easier. We won’t know until we try. Supporting gun control doesn’t mean you’re against firearms; it just means that you don’t want to see firearms used incorrectly and dangerously.

I don’t ever want this to happen again, and I think we owe it to our children and their future to figure out how to fix this problem. We’ll either build a safe future, or we’ll destroy it. I’m hoping for the former.