By Michael Nicholas
As the nation still reels from the shock of the mass shooting tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., there are people who advocate for arming teachers in every school as a response to the increased incidents of gun violence in schools.
On Feb. 28, a bill was passed in Florida to arm eligible teachers with handguns. According to the bill, ten teachers in every school are to be armed.
“The Florida House Appropriations Committee approved a bill to implement measures to prevent future school shootings, including a $67 million program to train teachers to carry guns,” the Hill reported. “The state’s Senate Appropriations Committee passed a similar bill on [Feb. 27].”
“I believe, if certified and [with]a proper background check, yes, a teacher should be able to have a gun,” said Junior Alex Kroudis. “I think a gun should only be held after a teacher has received tenure and the students are not aware of their possession. A problem could be that word gets out to students and they think guns are okay, or try and obtain a gun for themselves.”
Several states such as Vermont and New Jersey are looking to strengthen background check measures for all gun purchases. At the national level, however, there appears to be a bipartisan deadlock.
“Congress is under intense pressure to pass legislation to curb gun violence, but lawmakers are deeply split over how far to go in limiting access to guns,” according to an NPR report.
“I don’t think teachers should be able to have guns in classrooms,” said senior Derik Beckett. “Learning how to fight back when someone is trying to attack you with a gun isn’t something that comes naturally to most people. Because of this, I believe arming teachers would lead to more mayhem. In my opinion, I think doing this would promote a larger gun culture.”
To propose an alternative, Beckett pointed out the issue of gun access.
“I think the government should reconsider how easy it is for anyone to get a gun license,” said Beckett. “Reform is needed to create a screening process where only the mentally sound are allowed gun licenses.”
Freshman Tyler Duff believes that arming teachers isn’t the only necessary response to tragedies like this most recent one.
“I do not think teachers should be allowed to have a gun in the classroom because that is placing a weapon in the place we least want them,” said Duff. “If there are going to be guns allowed at any school, they should be held by a security guard.”
In the specific case of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, there was, in fact, an armed school resource officer who did not enter the building when the shooting began. As even the well-trained guard in this situation did not help, the jury appears to be out on the reliability of arming teachers or security guards.
It’s unclear which method would prove most successful in preventing further casualties, whether it be having armed teachers or guards available, or other actions like improving background checks on students and faculty. Perhaps an effective plan of action will combine ideas from all of these options.