Arming Teachers with More than Just Knowledge

Bradley Raymond, Staff Reporter

Over the past couple months there has been an increased spotlight on recent gun-related violence such as school shootings. Many people have turned to the idea of arming teachers which has become a controversial topic in schools and in media.

Based on a poll from “Most U.S. Teachers Oppose Carrying Guns in Schools – Gallup News” 73% of teachers out of 500 who were polled were opposed to the idea, while only 20% were for and 7% had no preference. This is a large amount of the people who answered.  

President Trump, after being misunderstood about his arming teachers speech, had to reiterate. “I never said, ‘give teachers guns’ like was stated in fake news @CNN and @NBC. What I said was to look at the possibility of giving ‘concealed guns to gun adept teachers with military or special training…’” Trump tweeted more than two months ago.

As the battle of gun control goes on and firearms become questioned more every day, the decision of arming teachers may very well be up to states. Trump mentioned in a tweet it might be up to states. This means it will be up to the states to allow or deny arming teachers on school grounds if put into effect. In response, many outraged voices threw their opinions into the pot creating more debate on the sensitive subject.

Some of the students and staff at YC were more than willing to voice their opinions. Trevor daSilva, YCHS manufacturing teacher, was very open about the topic. He believes giving all teachers a gun is the wrong thing to do. DaSilva thinks if there were psychological evaluations, monthly training and mental health background checks, firearms given to the most fit and those who pass requirements, it could work. An alternative to arming teachers daSilva said is having some of the retired veterans either volunteer or be paid as security for the schools as they have prior experience in stressful situations.

“School should be a safe place for all, and some don’t feel safe with guns around, yes they can be used for violence but they can also be used for defense,” daSilva said.

The students of YCHS are also very open about the topic. Sophomore Julian Lugo has no problem with the idea of arming teachers as long as the teachers feel comfortable with the idea of having firearms. “I would feel safer knowing there is some sort of protection,” Lugo stated. He also said having armed staff could deter a would-be-shooter but, if a staff member were to have an undocumented mental problem it could pose a threat to students. He would rather some sort of protection besides hiding behind a desk.

As the superintendent of the YC school district, Charan Cline is constantly having pressure on him as far as how to take control of this situation. The idea of arming teachers is not something he is happy about, but it is not an idea he is completely opposed to. One of his concerns are about insurance liability claims. The district’s insurance will not cover firearm injuries. If a teacher, even with adept training, mistakes a student rough housing for intentional harm and shoots them that falls back on the school and they can be sued.

In Florida in order for a teacher to be able to possess a gun on campus, they must undergo extensive training of 160 hours by the sheriff which would be the equivalent of being deputized. “I could feel a little better,” Cline said about the issue with regard the state of Oregon utilizing a similar law.

He additionally noted if a staff member is to be armed it could not be a full time teacher as they would need full access to the school, such as a librarian or office employee. Cline said he would prefer at that point to hire a police officer or a guard. Another possible solution would change the environment of the schools. He said he could just as easily install metal detectors and create a main entry point, but that would result in a more prison-like school environment. It is not out of the question, but it would make the campus inaccessible to the community.

Where he would rather put money toward is mental health, such as more counselors to defuse the problem before it gets out of control. Being in a very tough spot as superintendent, Cline is currently considering the idea of non-lethal defence on campus. Non-lethal weapons such as tasers or one shot bean bag guns will give teachers or students to have the ability to disable the active shooter or attacker.

Another concern is that of teacher safety. If there is an active shooter, when the police enter anyone with a gun will be shot. If a teacher is holding a gun it could result in said teacher being targeted by police.