In the wake of recent school shootings, there have been many discussions and protests about gun violence and safety. The argument that teachers should have the authority to carry a gun to protect their classroom has stuck with me throughout the years.
I hear both sides of the argument and agree that schools should be a place for both adults and children to feel safe. I do not believe that allowing a teacher, who is already extremely underpaid, under appreciated and has been through years of school solely to teach, should have to bare the burden of keeping a child safe in the event of an active shooter.
In my middle and high schools, we had one school resource officer (SRO) whose job was to keep us safe if a problem arose. Luckily, we never had any threats to my schools in the years I attended, so the SRO was never required to pull their gun out of the holster. Throughout those seven years, seeing the officer around school, knowing they had been properly trained and it was their job to keep me safe gave me the sense of safety we strive for children to have now.
It is a fact that it is expensive to have an SRO in every school in the state. I would rather my tax dollars help ensure the safety of children, who may already be or will one day be our children in schools, to have a trained professional rather than someone who spent four or more years in college to build the foundation for those children’s future with a few weeks or months’ worth of training.
There is no guarantee a teacher won’t have a bad day, regardless of how many screenings they go through, what their record looks like or how nice they are to you and the children at 6 a.m. We cannot control the minds or actions of people. I would not feel comfortable sending my child to school knowing their teacher had a gun on their person regardless of the training they may have undergone. That is not an underpaid teacher’s responsibility.
There is no guarantee that an angry student in a middle or high school won’t start a fight with another student or teacher and grab a gun off of an administrator or teacher who has been authorized to carry a gun on campus. I have seen teachers get punched in the face by accident for trying to break up a fight in my high school. What if that teacher was carrying a gun, the student knew and grabbed it and started shooting in the cafeteria?
Growing up in a family of educators, I know firsthand that if you’re in the education field, you are there because you love what you do and you want to make an impact on a student’s life. Teachers help shape children as students and people throughout the 180 days of school for 12 years – not to mention the time spent outside of the classroom preparing lesson plans and grading.
In essence, it is not the responsibility of the teacher to participate in any type of gun training, get their Concealed Weapons Permit or use guns to be children’s protectors. It is their job to make sure children are taken care of during the eight hours in the school day, but nowhere in the four years of undergrad or the standardized tests are they told they have to carry a gun to shape young children into their future selves.