On February 14th there was another tragic school shooting in America, this time at Stoneman Douglas High School and seventeen people were killed. In the USA in 2018 there have, so far, been eight school shootings that have resulted in death or injury and we are only seven weeks into the year. In the UK by comparison, there have been zero school shootings since the Dunblane massacre in 1996. Shortly after Dunblane, the ownership of handguns was banned in the UK and you would have to be pretty determined to not see the link between the two.
People have posted lots of opinions about how we can stop school shootings from happening. The most common opinion I've seen is that there needs to be tighter gun control laws in the USA. Other common opinions include increased security in schools, more help for young people with mental health problems and more research into the drugs being prescribed to young people with mental health problems. However, another stranger solution I've seen a few people put forward is that of arming teachers with guns themselves; this grabbed my attention as I am currently a school teacher.
The vast majority of teachers I know, regardless of personality, want the children in their class/classes to be safe and protected because why would you not? Also, I do think the majority of teachers would go above and beyond to protect the children in their school because you do feel a profound responsibility for their safety. You only have to look at the heroic actions of some of the teachers on February 14th to know that. However, I can't help but feel that people who genuinely think giving all teachers guns is a sensible solution probably look at this as reality:
That is Arnold Schwarzenegger in 'Kindergarten Cop', where the most sensible solution to protecting an at risk child is to send an undercover police detective to work as his teacher whilst waiting for his violent, criminal father to arrive. Yes, it's a brilliantly awful film ("Who is your daddy and what does he do?") but it definitely wouldn't be a good idea in the real world. Here are just a few reasons why:
- Most teachers are ordinary, peaceful people and, even with training, would not perform as well as Arnie in an armed fight.
- Most classes I've worked in have around 30 children in one fairly small room. No matter how many precautions you take, having that many children so close to a firearm is an accident waiting to happen.
- You are completely normalising children to being around weapons.
- A child might decide they want to get get hold of the weapon.
- You are trusting teachers, who are constantly distracted by the needs of 30 separate children, to always be completely responsible with the firearm.
- Many teachers could easily be overpowered by another adult (or even child in some cases) trying to get the gun.
- Having weapons in a school might make it easier to sneak in more weapons.
Honestly, I could go on and on and on. I love the thought of being a hero and saving a class of children from some scumbag who wants to hurt them but the dangers of teachers having guns themselves are far too obvious and plentiful to ever make it a sensible option. Despite this, we should still remember the heroic actions of teachers and children when tragedies like this occur. On February 14th you had: Aaron Feis who died shielding students from gunfire; Scott Beigel who was killed whilst locking a door to prevent the gunman from getting to his students; Peter Wang who, despite only being fifteen, spent his last moments holding a door open for others to get to safety as well as many others. We need more people like this, not more guns.