6 Reasons We Shouldn't Arm Teachers, According To These Thoughtful (And Scathing) Tweets
President Trump hosted a listening session at the White House following the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida. During the event, the president proposed giving teachers guns as a way to prevent future mass attacks at schools, and the next day he tweeted about it again, writing that "trained, gun adept, teachers/coaches" would be a "GREAT DETERRENT" to stop a school shooting. And in response, Twitter offered reasons not to give teachers guns that will make you think.
The idea to arm school employees is popular amongst many on the pro-gun side of the aisle, though notably not all Republicans support teachers packing heat during the school day. But for those who are avidly opposed to regulations on guns, the option they often consider for security is allowing — perhaps even requiring — a certain number of teachers to carry concealed weapons on campus.
The argument goes like this: If someone plotting a school shooting knows there are armed teachers who will shoot back, they might decide against targeting a school at all. Should a person choose to go through with it, a gun-toting teacher may be able to stop them long before law enforcement arrives.
There are quite a few counterarguments to this take on securing schools. Below are just a few of the reasons people don't think arming teachers is a viable solution.
1. It Would Take Needed Funding Away From Actual School Programs
Many districts struggle to provide teachers with enough materials for their students. In some places, schools can't even afford to keep the heat on during the winter.
So, it seems absurd to argue the country can afford to arm teachers across the nation, a gambit that would certainly be, if nothing else, enormously expensive.
2. Teachers Have More Than Enough Responsibilities Already
Teachers do much more than give lectures and assign homework. They're almost always responsible for all their own paperwork — from grading to attendance to making copies — as well as their required presence at any number of meetings (student-parent conferences, IEP meetings, staff meetings, etc.).
Not to mention, teachers in the classroom aren't just trying to educate their students — they're in a full-time managerial position as well (keeping students on task, redirecting from distractions, dealing with behavioral issues, etc.). There are after-hours phone calls to parents and tutoring with students, and the list goes on and on.
No teacher needs the added responsibility of being a fully trained and competent shooter.
3. Armed Black Teachers Could Face A Different Set Of Consequences
Many Twitter users recalled that Philando Castile was a school employee with a permit to carry a gun. When he was pulled over by the police, Castile told the officer he had a legally owned firearm in the car. Following every possible measure to ensure he adhered to the rules, Castile was nevertheless fatally shot by the police.
Black teachers and advocates have pointed out they have historically faced a different set of circumstances and assumptions where gun ownership is concerned. The very act of carrying a firearm could pose a threat to them, personally, even if it were never fired.
4. An Armed Teacher May Not Be Able To Stop A Shooter.
There are plenty of examples to back up the claim that armed people cannot always stop gun violence. As MSNBC host Chris Hayes pointed out on Twitter, loads of the concertgoers in Las Vegas were carrying guns, and that didn't prevent the shooter from killing 58 people in a matter of minutes.
Another point that sprang up on Twitter immediately in the aftermath of Parkland was that of Chris Kyle, the military veteran whose life was portrayed in American Sniper.
Kyle was one of the most skilled shooters in history, but that expertise didn't prevent him from being shot and killed by a young man he was trying to mentor.
It's foolish to argue that even a well-trained gun owner can routinely take out another shooter, especially if that other person is wielding an automatic or semi-automatic weapon.
5. The Logistical Reality Of Training Teachers Is A Boondoggle
Adam Best, the CEO of news and politics outlet 50 States of Blue did the math on what it would mean to arm 20 percent of teachers, the number Trump suggested.
Since the United States has 3.6 million public school teachers, Trump is proposing to arm 720,000 of them. And Best points out that training them would be a challenge, to put it mildly.
For one, police officers — whose job requirements include being a well-trained, accurate shooter — regularly miss and/or shoot the wrong person.
Additionally, the funding and personnel required to train 720,000 teachers would be enormous. And it's not at all clear how teachers would coordinate with each other in the event of a shooter on campus.
6. Arming Teachers Makes Them The Obvious First Target
It's impossible to know whether or not a potential school shooter would in fact be deterred by the prospect of armed teachers. But if a person decided to carry out a mass shooting, it follows that they would simply target teachers first.
In the absence of gun control, securing schools becomes a much more involved task. The current offering of arming teachers may sound plausible to some. But the logistical reality, not to mention the lack of evidence such a plan would even work, has turned off many to the idea of teachers packing heat in the classroom.