Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Guns Headed For The Classroom

Of all the bad ideas.

I know there are folks who believe in their heart of hearts that arming teachers will make schools safer, or that putting armed police in the building will be helpful. But there are so many bad signs.

I want to believe that school resource officers can be helpful. Earlier this month, a school shooting was likely averted just up the road because students at the school felt comfortable enough with the SRO to turn in the students who were planning the attack.

But when I see stories like the one of the Chicago cops dragging a sixteen year old student down a flight of stairs, or see the video of a Florida cop body slamming an eleven-year-old, I have to conclude that sooner or later, some child is going to be killed in school.

I have even more misgivings when I see what a rush some states and districts are in to put guns in the hands of teachers.

A school district in Ohio apparently just decided that teachers should be able to carry in school after a three-day twenty-seven hour training. Three days. That seems like... not very much.

But that's still better than Oklahoma, where a bill just came out of committee to allow teachers to have guns in their classrooms with zero-- that zip, nada, none-- hours of training. Previously the state allowed only those withe peace officer or armed security guard certificates to carry, and those require 240 hours of training.

The potential for disaster here is huge. Were I still teaching, I'm not sure that finding out my neighbor was packing in the classroom next door wouldn't have me dusting off my resume. Guns in the hands of untrained amateurs in my building would be a deal breaker, on par with an unshielded nuclear reactor in my closet.

If you think I'm overreacting, consider this list of firearm screwups in just the last five years, courtesy of Giffords.org.

A gun was found unattended in an elementary school bathroom. No, not that other time. No, not this time, either. This time when it was left over the weekend.

A teacher was helping students do cartwheels when a loaded pistol fell out of his waistband.

A teacher lost it in a road rage incident, then took the other person's phone at gunpoint. Then he took the gun to school.

A kindergarten teacher came to school with a loaded gun. Oh, and she was drunk.

A student took a security guard's gun out of its holster.

During a lockdown over a false report, a security guard accidentally fired his gun.

A teacher unintentionally fired a gun in class. A student was hit in the neck by bullet fragments.

A sheriff's deputy unintentionally fired his gun in a classroom. The classroom was empty, but the bullet passed through the wall and hit the teacher next door in the neck-- fortunately not hard enough to break skin.

A school custodian thought he's caught kids trying to break in; he chased them down and pointed his gun at them.

While breaking up a fight, a school security guard pulled a gun on a student and threatened to kill him.

While a security guard was trying to subdue him, a student reached into the holster and pulled the trigger, firing the gun.

A wrestling coach got in an argument with a thirteen-year-old wrestler, then pulled a gun on him in the restroom.

A school resources officer committed suicide by gun while students were in school.

A teacher locked himself in an empty classroom and fired shots out the window.

This is just a fraction of list collected by Giffords.com.

Guns in schools-- even in the hands of trained professionals-- are an invitation to trouble. Arming teachers is a bad idea, and unlikely to be of any help in worst-case scenarios. The window of opportunity is tiny, the chance for collateral is huge, shooting accurately in high stress situations is hard, and the confusion on the scene, particularly as police arrive, just makes things worse. And for the whole rest of the year, you have a firearm in your school. Teachers have to be aware of all the many things they usually have to be aware of  while keeping track of that gun at all times.

Guns in school do not make people safer. They have the potential to make problem situations worse, they are a constant hazard to all students sand staff, and they will not even help should an active shooter situation occur. The price is too high, the payoff too low. To make things even worse by arming teachers with zero training is hugely irresponsible.

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