Should teachers be allowed to carry guns in schools?
In 2012, the newspapers flooded with a shocking news about a shooter who killed 20 first-grade students and six adults in Sandy Hook Elementary School in New Town, Connecticut. The incident set up a series of arguments about the safety of children in schools and a number of proposals came up for ensuring safety. One suggestion was that teachers must be allowed to carry guns. This proposal was strongly put forth by the Vice President of NRA, Wayne La Pierre. He stated in a press Conference, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." Senior Bob Beers argued that "armed teachers would be a deterrent to shooting rampages at schools," ( Horng, 2006). These suggestions urged many states to take immediate action. Laws were made and schools took security measures immediately. However, there were counter arguments as well. Everyone did not share the opinion that teachers must be allowed to carry guns to school. The very guns carried by teachers for safety purposes can be a treat to safety.
The state legislatures of different states reacted to the Sandy Hooks incident in different ways. South Dakota was the first state to pass a law permitting teachers to carry guns. But the law 'did not require them to do so." The state also made it mandatory to obtain the approval of the sheriff, police chief or other law enforcement official. A training session of 80 hours was necessary for gun holders. As per reports, the South Dakota did not rush to take advantage of the law. In Texas, teachers were permitted to carry guns even prior to the Sandy Hook incident, but, "the vast majority of districts had not exercised that option," (Rostron, 2006). In Texas, it was not mandatory to appoint schools marshals. It was left to the choice of the schools. A few days after the Sandy Hook incident, lawmakers in Tennessee called for legislation to arm teachers. According to one bill, "School districts would be obligated to let teachers carry guns at schools where no armed resource officer was stationed," (In Rostron, 2014). Additional training of 40 hours was made mandatory before issuing a license to hold a gun. The law also added that a teacher would have to obtain approval from the school principal and authorities for carrying a gun to school. "Tennessee schools responded with little interest in seizing the opportunity to arm teachers," ( Rostron, 2014). In Kansas, the state increased the number of guns carried by school personnel, but school officials showed little interest. In Kansas, there was resistance from insurance companies. "It's one thing to have a trained peace officer with a gun in school; it's a completely different situation when you have a teacher with a gun," ( Skow, 2013) explained a spokesman from an insurance company. The reports clearly show that in spite of suggestions and laws, the impact of the Sandy Hook case had little practical impact. Laws included conditions that showed an inclination against the possession of guns by teachers. There is no evidence that teachers rushed to make the best of this opportunity and procure guns. States did not trust teachers with guns. They suggested appointing trained personnel. Training was compulsory.
There is no doubt that the Sandy Hook incident was unpleasant. There were other similar incidents. Now let us imagine that teachers at Sandy Hook schools possessed guns when they were attacked. Would they have been able to prevent the tragedy? According to reports, the security measures in the school were not lacking. Teachers and other school employees had handled a number of emergencies and they did their best on the occasion. Ronald Stephen, the Director of the national School Safety Center said, when someone is intent upon committing an act of violence, " we have to realize that even on the best of days, schools have certain limitation," ( Shah N., 2014).
There is a point to be made for teachers as well. It is nice to say that teachers must be trained to use guns. Is every person capable of acquiring the skill of using a gun? Most people fear the sight of a gun and dread the idea of touching. Practically, it is impossible to train teachers or expect them to use guns skillfully in case of emergency. This solution cannot work even if carrying a gun is made compulsory for teachers. Genuine teachers are made of different stuff; they would prefer to resign from the job rather than agree to use a gun. The National Association of Elementary School Principals stated, "It is not reasonable to expect that a school official could intervene in a deadly force incident, even with a modicum of training, quickly and safely enough to save lives."
When we talk about allowing teachers to carry guns in school, it is necessary to take into account the purpose and significance of schools and teachers. School is considered to be a temple of learning. Knowledge is revered all over the world and knowledge is imparted in schools. The system of school education revolves around teachers. A teacher is associated with accessories like books, notebooks, pens, and blackboard and teaching aids of different types. The word GUNS does not go with the word TEACHER. Teachers shape the characters of children in schools. Primary education is compulsory in all countries. Everyone sends children to schools. Parents, teachers, states and nations are all stakeholders in the system of education. The simple logic is that the shooters may also be having children who go to school. His children stand an equal chance of being attacked. What could prompt him to attack innocent children? Few reports have posed this question.
Following the report of the Tribunal in the Sandy Hook case, many schools increased safety measures in schools. They installed close circuit cameras, built high fences and appointed guards. Other proposals that came up were appointing armed officers in schools, hiring security officers, counselors and psychologists and allowing teacher or staff members to carry concealed weapons in school. The government provided metal detectors and bore the expenses of security guards. The suggestions in this list focus on the implementation of safety measures in schools. How much importance was given in the news reports to the man who killed the victims? How many paused to consider what had prompted him to take such a step? The point is that steps need to be taken to find out the causes why such attacks take place. There is a need to peep into the minds of criminals and perverts and to try and understand what cruel motives prompt them to be violent. If people get sadistic pleasure in such attacks, if students enjoy bringing guns to school and playing with them as they play with bats and balls, something is wrong with the system to which these people belong. It indicates the failure of the society, the nation and the education system.
Individual characters are shaped in schools. Perhaps, schools have failed in inculcating social values in citizens. That is the reason why people like Adam Lanza are found. Nirvi Shah has reported in her article that many observers reacted with the statement, "There must have been something wrong with Adam Lanza, ' ( Shah, 2013). Those who said it were on the right track. They had hit at the root of the problem. The solution can be found in homes and schools. Jennifer Frederick has rightly said, "Education in the classroom should not cease with academic courses such as biology and algebra, English literature and American history. Education in the classroom should also include teaching by example and setting standards for our students to follow and look up to," ( Frederick, 1999).
It is true that teachers have a right to safety. The safety of children in schools is indeed a primary concern. Carrying guns is not the only solution to protect children in schools. Teachers cannot be trained to use guns expertly; their achievements are of a different nature. In spite of support from laws, school authorities have shown reluctance to encourage teachers to possess guns in school premises.
Guns are not toys. Real handguns are deadly weapons. There seems to be no controversy in this regard. The proof is that everyone is not allowed to carry a gun. In every country, the law states that one must have a license in order to carry a concealed weapon. Another common observation is that only those individuals are permitted to carry weapons that have some minimum training in handling guns. This fact emphasizes awareness on the part of the state that guns are to be taken seriously. The last place where one could think of carrying a gun is a school.
When gun attacks take place, there is a lot of discussion but it subsides in course of time. The laws and provisions made are put aside and neglected. It can be said that people consider schools as safe places for children. If parents begin to doubt safety provisions in schools, they will stop sending their children to school.
Schools are like sanctums. If teachers begin to carry guns in schools, the atmosphere in schools will change. If teachers begin to carry guns to school on a regular basis, they may be prompted to use them when they are handy and easily available. Arming an individual with a weapon of cruelty can urge him to make use of it. It is not a question of the 'use' of a gun; it is a question about the 'user' of the gun. According to Allan Rostron, "Guns can be used to do bad things, and they can be used to do good things. They can be used to commit terrible crimes or they can be used to save lives. Those who shape laws and policies concerning guns should aim to promote the socially beneficial uses of guns while reducing the prevalence of their misuse," ( Rostron, 2009). I would go to the extent of saying that guns can never serve a socially beneficial purpose. Goodness and compassion should come from within like self discipline. It will be a golden day when the manufacturing of guns will stop. Not only teachers, but nobody should feel a need to use guns. Certainly, teachers should not be allowed to carry guns in schools.