Is Arming Teachers a Good Idea?

On February 14, 2018, at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, 17 people were killed at the hands of Nikolas Cruz and his AR-15 style rifle. Although Donald Trump was not the first voice in the conversation on arming teachers to solve the problem of school shootings, his comments endorsing the NRA’s position on arming teachers following the February 14 shooting has given rise to widespread debate.

To anyone supporting arming teachers in schools as a reasonable and rational measure in preventing or mitigating mass shootings at schools, I challenge you to read this post (and the links…ALL of them) before continuing to respond to this conversation. When so many lives are at stake, how willing are you to listen carefully to perspectives and arguments that do not align with your own preexisting beliefs?

Placing the Burden

After the shooting rampage in Dallas in 2016, police chief David Brown said that overall, the police force is asked to take on too much, and too much responsibility is affecting their ability to do any aspect of their job well. Being overburdened and over-stressed does not lead to good job performance. Perhaps this is why law enforcement failed to respond to several early warning signs that Nikolas Cruz had plans to massacre his high school. This is a problem in our police forces, and we cannot do the same to teachers.

Teachers are already overburdened with responsibility. Is it seriously reasonable and rational to put even more responsibility on teachers’ plates when they’re already responsible for providing our children with a 21st century education (not to mention being underfunded in this endeavor to begin with)?

Firsthand Accounts

Arming Teachers? Guns + Schools: It Doesn't Add UpEven a variety of veterans think it’s a bad idea to have firearms in classrooms (see James Fallows’ article at The Atlantic and Matt Martin’s narrative at Charlotte Five). People who actually teach don’t think it’s a good idea. And mental health care professionals suggest that having firearms in the classroom likely wouldn’t decrease and could actually INCREASE the incidents of mass shootings in schools (link #6).

A Light Literature Review

So to those of you supporting firearms in classrooms, how do you respond to these narratives and arguments? (which I’ve briefly annotated for your convenience):

  1. Teaching is more than “teaching” (so how can we ask teachers to do even more and have a chance at being successful?):
  2. Police weren’t meant to solve every societal problem [and neither are teachers]:
  3. Personal narrative from a vet who reveals that you can never know how people will handle a live fire situation no matter how much training they have (if some military personnel with LOADS of training freeze in live fire situations, what can we expect of teachers?):
  4. Personal narrative from a then-vet and now-teacher who challenges the notion of becoming a once-again infantryman in the classroom:
  5. Personal narrative and argument from a college teacher, pointing to a variety of problems and valid concerns about having firearms in the classroom:
  6. From a psychological perspective, Peter Langman reveals how most school shooters—particularly psychopathic shooters—fully intend to either commit suicide after or be killed during or after the shooting (suggesting to me that arming teachers gives psychopaths the idea that they’ll more likely be killed which could actually INCREASE the number of school shootings rather than decrease):

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