The following Sunday Forum is in response to “NC lawmakers will consider arming teachers following school shootings” (Feb. 21).
Arm teachers with ‘support’
This is a headline to get many parents, teachers and students up in arms. The mere idea of teachers with guns in our schools is infuriating. However, I’m also upset that we have yet another commission to discuss school safety.
Now of course I want safe schools, but this isn’t the first committee to discuss this. Did you know that we have a Center for School Safety? We do. We also have a School Safety Kit and numerous school safety task force discussions.
What we don’t have is enough school counselors, physiologists or nurses. I don’t want recommendations for more support staff, I want the money to actually hire them and put them in place. The last thing our state needs is another unfunded mandate.
I ask our leaders to arm our teachers with support to educate our students. I ask the General Assembly to arm our schools with mental health professionals like school counselors and psychologists. Arm our systems with the money to pay for these professionals. We don’t need to arm our teachers with guns, arm them with money and resources.
Don’t arm teachers
The idea of having school staff carry firearms may sound like an easy solution to potential mass shootings, but it’s a recipe for endangering more lives. It’s one thing for a teacher to be trained in the use of a weapon on a firing range. It’s a different situation when that teacher faces the chaos and hysteria caused by a gunman roaming through hallways and classrooms with high-powered, rapid-firing weaponry.
In such circumstances, will the teacher have enough of a steady hand, cool head, and professional’s awareness of ballistics to avoid causing collateral death and injury in pursuit of the shooter? Chances are he or she won’t. Better to have teachers fully trained in ways of keeping students out of the line of fire and leave it to police or police-trained guards to bear the responsibility of neutralizing the shooter. Better yet would be a ban on the sale of AR-15-style guns, which serve no purpose other than to kill people.
I have been teaching in Mexico City for over 16 years. During that time, the U.S. State Department has issued travel warnings for Mexico because of cartel-related gun violence in some regions. During those 16 years in class, not once have I ever worried about being shot by a student or colleague.
Why? It does not happen here because Mexico has stricter gun laws. The idea of returning to North Carolina to continue my teaching career makes me worry about my safety. This is absurd. The state legislature now considers arming teachers as a solution. That would not create an environment conducive for teaching or learning.
My international students frequently ask, “Glenn, what is wrong with you guys in America?” To them, the solutions are clear. When statistics taught us that drinking and driving is dangerous for society, lawmakers implemented changes to reduce the number of intoxicated drivers on the road. Likewise, they should change gun laws and make going to school, the movies or a concert safer. Simple solution: stricter gun laws.
Our elected officials should be ashamed. The problem is ample access to guns. The wrong solution is to add a gun to my syllabus for history class.
Take guns ‘seriously’
North Carolina lawmakers are thinking about arming teachers to protect against student killings? Excuse me if I question the intelligence of such a suggestion, given that the negatives of that have already been thoroughly discussed publicly, along with the suggestion that armed guards be posted at every school.
Instead, what about legislators taking seriously the common-sense measures of strictly-enforced gun laws like background checks and the prohibition of the sale of assault weapons and multiple-round magazines designed for war?
John D. Divers
There is no single solution to school shootings, or any other murderous happening in a group setting. As a Korean War vet and a hunter since my childhood, I think making weapons like AR-15s available to anyone outside of law enforcement or the military is absurdly dangerous.
As a former director of mental health in North Carolina, we certainly need more immediate and long-term services for people of all ages with violence in their hearts and heads.
As a former junior high and high school teacher and having had an experience in Korea with accidental and “friendly” fire, I have reservations to arming teachers, or anybody not fully trained, to use loaded weapons in crowded places.
Prohibiting combat weapons, rigorous background checks for any weapon, better security in schools and readily-available mental health care and intervention are not complete solutions, but all will help.