Individuals and media outlets across the United States are talking about firearms, firearm control, mass shootings, and violence. The debate was given fuel after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, which stripped away the lives of 17 innocent teachers and students.
People are empathetic, emotional, and angry. It is natural whenever any tragic event happens that people want to talk and mobilize. Everyone is looking for solutions.
One of these solutions is allowing teachers to carry firearms to protect students. Congressman Thomas Massie, a representative of Kentucky, took to Twitter to announce his proposal to repeal the “Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990.”
Butler County, Ohio, Sheriff, Richard K. Jones, is among the many who support allowing teachers to be armed. “I am going to offer free concealed and Carry class free 2 teachers in butler county. Limited number. Details coming soon online. Also training on school shootings,” Sheriff Jones posted on Twitter. “Our teachers start training Monday in firearms ccw. While our gov[ernment] still debates what 2 do we will have trained over 100 school personnel by Saturday,” Sheriff Jones also tweeted.
These solutions don’t come without controversy and backlash. A lot of people support the proposal to arm teachers. A lot of people take issue with the proposal to arm teachers. There is no doubt that there are genuine concerns and questions many parents and school staff have.
There are many sides of skepticism to this proposal. Some libertarians are against the proposal because it will arm hundreds, if not thousands, of government employees. The strongest opposition to arming the teachers comes from the left though. Many can agree that we should seriously consider whether or not we want to arm teachers.
In order to actually make a clear-conscious decision, we must honestly talk about the intentions and consequences of this proposal. However, there is a barrier preventing common ground to be made on the proposal. This barrier is built by strawmen, exaggerated hypotheticals, hyper-partisanship, and basic misconceptions.
As stated before, some of these questions and comments are genuine. Let’s tackle some of these misconceptions.
When people propose the idea of arming the teachers, they are not talking about visiting the local gun shop or armory and stocking the entire bed of a pickup truck with guns and handing them out to every Tom, Dick, and Harry. They are not suggesting that every teacher will have a firearm holstered to their side visible to everyone around them. No one is suggesting that the hallway custodian should sling an AR-15 on their back.
Instead, the proposal is to allow teachers who are already competent with a firearm to be able to conceal carry or keep it in a safe nearby to protect their classroom. The solution isn’t to force a mandatory training course and supply every single teacher with a pistol, but rather provide an option for teachers with a keen interest in protecting the children they are teaching.
Here is some food for thought. Teachers are already obligated to protect the students they are given oversight over. Why not allow the teacher who is competent, or wishes to be trained in compliance with federal, state, local, and school district regulations, the choice to use or acquire a tool that would help them effectively carry out their obligation to defend students? We are talking about choice. Not a mandate.
Let’s talk about the hyper-partisanship or ideologically exaggerated arguments against the proposal.
Democrat Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon is against arming school teachers because, to him, it would admit that school shootings, in the United States, are a normal thing. “I am for teachers teaching,” the Oregon Democrat said Friday, Feb. 23, at a town hall meeting attended by students and the public at McNary High School in Keizer. “I am opposed to arming teachers.” “It’s almost as if these shootings in schools have been normalized,” Ron Wyden continued. “We cannot accept this. We are better than this.”
I call this a hyper-partisan exaggeration because Ron Wyden generally stands with his Democratic peers when it comes to gun control. Ron Wyden supported a ban on high-capacity magazines, he supported the ability to sue firearm manufacturers for crimes committed with firearms, and in 2010, Ron Wyden was given an “F” by the NRA.
Ron Wyden is likely to oppose a solution that would give permission or encouragement to private ownership of firearms. Let’s address his stated reasoning behind his opposition to allowing teachers to carry. He associated the proposal to allow teachers the choice to carry with admitting that school shootings are normal in the United States.
That isn’t the position held by most people who advocate for teachers being allowed to carry. As I wrote above, the proposal is to allow teachers the choice of concealing a firearm.
Democrats aren’t the only ones who oppose the idea of arming teachers. Some libertarians may ask, what about the idea of arming government employees? Isn’t that concerning? This position operates on the presumption that taxpayer money will be used to supply a firearm to every teacher. Perhaps this is the position of some people. However, that’s the wrong way to look at it, and in response, I raise this question. Should a person who works for the government be denied access to own a firearm?
I share the sentiment that smaller government is preferable. A less intrusive and less powerful government is highly preferable. I would personally like to see education privatized or handled locally. With that being said, I think my question stands.
Should we ban a United States Postal Service employee from owning a firearm? Should we ban federal judges from owning a firearm? Does your right to own a firearm end simply because you are a government employee? If not, then why should you not have the option to carry a firearm that you are legally allowed to own?
When Sheriff Richard K. Jones suggested that teachers should be armed, someone who took issue with that used a hypothetical argument in clear opposition to the suggestion.
During the active shooting, the armed guards planted at the school stayed safely outside. This revelation rightfully sparked outrage.
So, with that in mind, how are we to expect art teachers and librarians to protect students when the School Resource Officer wouldn’t enter the building and attempt to stop the shooter?
Firstly, the question intentionally implies that teachers and librarians are incapable of protecting their own lives. And the question insinuates that because teachers and librarians are incapable of protecting their own lives, they shouldn’t be able to even have the option of acquiring a tool that would allow them to protect their own lives. The question implies that cops and military members are far better at protecting an individual than the individual themselves.
What about being an art teacher means that you cannot competently use a firearm to protect you and your classroom?
Secondly, the question assumes that in the event of a shooting, teachers are going to roam the halls looking for the shooter. Sure, that is a possibility, but it’s unlikely. What’s more likely is that in the event of a shooting, a lockdown would occur. Teachers would lock the doors, turn off the lights, close the blinds, and guide students to hide under their desk or away from windows.
Of course, this is all speculation, which is why we shouldn’t write legislation based on hyperbolic what ifs. How would a cop be able to tell the difference between an armed teacher and a shooter? Many school districts require teachers and school staff to wear badges or some other form of identification. They also issue passes to anyone who visits the school. Also, hopefully by the time the police show up, the situation would be defused. Furthermore, to avoid any confusion, teachers should be encouraged to protect their classroom or any area they are designated instead of roaming hallways vigilantly.
There’s an infinite amount of questions and concerns. You couldn’t accurately write out every criticism or question about this hot-button issue. It is impossible to appease every single individual across every single ideological spectrum. Those who are anti-gun and ideologically unmovable are unlikely to support proposals to arm teachers.
There will be concerns and questions that are legitimate. However, the barrier built of ideological strawmen and hyperbole won’t go away.
Lastly, the proposal isn’t to arm every single teacher across the country. The idea is to allow competently trained teachers who already privately own a firearm, or would like to own one, to have the option of bringing it to work with them to add an extra blanket of security for our children. The idea behind the proposal is to stop advertising school campuses as a “gun-free zone,” in favor of creating a layer of uncertainty to those contemplating committing a violent act on society.
* Logan Anderson is an Oregonian and free-market advocate.