Filling classrooms with guns is not the solution to mass shootings

David Micali, Crier staff

You want to know who I do not trust with guns? Besides terrorists, the mentally ill, and people with a history of violence and anger, I do not trust teachers with guns.

So, imagine my frustration when I read in The New York Times that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is considering whether to allow states to use federal funding to purchase guns for teachers, according to sources with knowledge of the plan.

On August 31, DeVos wrote that she “will not take any action that would expand or restrict the responsibilities and flexibilities granted to state and local education agencies by Congress.” In other words, schools can choose whether or not to purchase guns.

I find issue with the idea of arming teachers on three levels; its retaliatory nature, its deep-rooted flaws, and its failure to address other kinds of mass shootings.

Primarily, arming teachers is not a preventative measure, but a retaliatory one. Think about the timeline of events; a shooter starts shooting and the teachers, upon hearing gunshots, take out their guns to defend their students. At this point, the moment the teachers arm themselves, people have already been shot.

One could make the argument that an armed teacher acts as deterrence. As President Trump put it on Twitter “a potential ‘sicko shooter’ knows that a school has a large number of … weapons… the sicko will NEVER attack that school… problem solved.”

I could make the argument that people who go out and think “I’m going to kill as many people as possible” are not acting rationally, but I would rather use an example from America’s past.

Similar to most large colleges and universities, Virginia Tech has its own police department. That did little to stop Seung-Hui Cho from killing 32 people in 2007.

Knowing about the VTPD did not stop Seung-Hui Cho. What good would an armed teacher do?

Additionally, the idea of an armed teacher is deeply flawed in that it fails to consider how effective a teacher would be able to respond to a shooting. Teachers are humans, and humans make mistakes.

The proposal for armed teachers requires that a teacher can recognize and distinguish a shooter from other students.

The shooter, for example, could gun down the people in the halls, drop his gun, and pretend to be a fleeing student.

This is not unrealistic.

Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old Parkland shooter, fled the school by dropping his rifle and backpack and blended with a group of fleeing students, according to authorities. Cruz was not identified as the shooter until police reviewed security camera footage.

Even then, Parkland student Lorenzo Prado was still mistakenly identified and arrested by police.

According to Prado “I was matching the same description as Nikolas Cruz. I had the same clothes, same color, same facial structure.”

If the teachers at Parkland were armed, it is quite possible that they would have shot Prado, believing him to be the shooter.

One could make the argument that an armed teacher could easily identify the shooter when the shooter enters a classroom wielding a gun.

This scenario assumes that the shooter would enter the classroom. Cruz never entered any classrooms, instead, shooting through windows in the classroom doors.

Finally, arming teachers does not prevent other kinds of mass shootings. Schools do not have a monopoly on mass shootings.

They have happened on random city streets (Camden, 1949), at fast-food restaurants (San Ysidro, 1984), at movie theaters (Aurora, 2012), at churches (Charleston, 2015 and Sutherland Springs, 2017), at offices (San Bernardino, 2015), at night clubs (Orlando, 2016), at concerts (Las Vegas, 2017), and at video game conventions (Jacksonville, 2018).

Any place where people gather in large numbers is fair game to a mass shooter.

The answer to this problem is not arming the populace, it is to prevent these shootings from happening in the first place. Whether that requires stricter gun laws, enforcing the current gun laws, or advancements in mental health treatment is up to debate and opinion.

However, it is my opinion that the solution to this problem is not more guns.