Kim Kizyma
Graphic Designer + Creative Technologist

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Arming teachers is a dangerous proposal

Schools are meant to be places of sanctuary, safety, and learning for children. But, as the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, shows, children are also victims of America's gun violence crisis, even while attending school.

After shootings like Parkland, and as a way to further their "guns everywhere" agenda, the NRA takes every opportunity to push for policies that would arm teachers. There is no evidence that arming teachers will protect children in schools. To the contrary, research indicates that arming teachers will make children less safe.

This is why school safety experts--including teachers, school resource officers, and law enforcement organizations--oppose the policy. If lawmakers want to prevent school shootings they must adopt proactive, commonsense solutions to prevent people with dangerous histories from obtaining guns in the first place.

Arming teachers ignores research that shows the presence of a gun increases the risks posed to children.

  • As with their parents' firearms, students may be aware of where and how teachers keep their firearms, and how to obtain access. A recent study shows that the majority of children are aware where their parents store their guns, and more than one third reported handling their parents' guns--40% of them doing so without the knowledge of their parents.
  • Access to a firearm, irrespective of age, triples the risk of death by suicide and doubles the risk of death by homicide. And the vast majority of fatal unintentional shootings of children are self-inflicted, or are by other children and involve an unsecured gun found in their own home.
  • Easy availability of firearms play a fatal role in child firearm suicides--in over 80% of youth gun suicides, the child used a gun  belonging to a family member.
  • This body of research showing the increased risks to children posed by the presence of a gun suggests that introducing guns in schools would have similar tragic consequences.

America's teachers, school safety experts, and law enforcement oppose arming teachers.

  • The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, the nation's two largest organizations of education professionals, oppose allowing guns in schools, a position they reiterated after the Parkland shooting. The Presidents of the AFT and NEA have consistently rejected calls to arm teachers.
Guns have no place in our schools. Period. We must do everything we can to reduce the possibility of any gunfire in schools, and concentrate on ways to keep guns off school property and ensure the safety of children and school employees. Lawmakers at every level of government should dismiss this dangerous idea and instead focus on measures that will create the safe and supportive learning environments our children deserve.
  • A national guide published by the federal government's chief legal, law enforcement, public health education, and emergency management agencies cautioned that allowing civilians to carry guns in schools is not a sound security practice.

The NRA claims arming teachers will stop "active shooters" during a school shooting. But arming civilians is not an effective way to stop active shooters.

  • The FBI found that in 160 active shooter incidents, there was only one successful armed civilian intervention--and the civilian in that incident was a highly trained U.S. Marine. In contrast, unarmed civilians successfully intervened in over 20 incidents.
  • Research casts significant doubt on the idea that civilians can shoot as well as trained police officers in active shooter situations.

In fact, armed civilians have put law enforcement in danger, delayed law enforcement responses, and posed a risk to innocent bystanders during active shooter crises.

Arming teachers would burden schools with large new costs for insurance and security.

  • Schools that have allowed employees to carry guns have had difficulty obtaining insurance coverage. Some liability insurance providers have declined coverage to these schools while others have increased annual premiums, stretching already tight budgets.
  • Proposals to arm teachers will likely result in additional costs for training teachers, firearms, ammunition, and other costs, putting an additional financial burden on school districts, and ultimately, the taxpayers.

The best way to protect American children and schools from shootings such as the incident in Parkland, Florida, is to pass comprehensive gun safety laws that can prevent people with dangerous histories from ever getting a gun.

  1. Implement background checks on all gun sales
    • Under current federal law, criminal background checks are only required for sales conducted by licensed dealers. This loophole is easy to exploit, and makes it far too easy for convicted felons or domestic abusers to acquire a weapon sans background check.
  2. Implement Red Flag Laws
    • his policy empowers family and law enforcement to petition a judge to temporarily block a person from having guns if they pose a danger to themselves or others.
  3. Keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers
    • The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed. And most mass shootings are connected to domestic and family violence. Mass shootings significantly impact children: over 40% of fatalities in domestic or family violence related mass shootings were children.
  4. Raise the minimum age to 21 years old for the purchase ofo semi-automatic rifiles and shotguns--so that it matches the minimum purchase age for handguns.
    • Because he was under the age of 21, the Parkland shooter could not have gone into a gun store and bought a handgun, but he legally bought an AR-15. 18-20 year olds commit gun homicides at a rate nearly four times higher than adults 21 and older.

The data and information above was collected from Everytown.

In conclusion, we have lots of work to do. And everyone seems aware. The progress made by the heroes and survivors in Parkland, Florida have already done much such as raise the conversation to a national level and maintain its relevance. The upcoming March For Our Lives will be another critical mark in history for commonsense gun laws and I am excited to see the presence and support there. It's important we educate ourselves with facts and follow through with voting in every election. If we do not show that we care, why should our lawmakers?

kk