A recent NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll showed the majority of Americans don’t want to arm teachers, but 42 percent of people said they should.
Conversations around gun legislation and school safety programs have ignited across the country in response to a high school shooting in Parkland, Fla., in which 17 people were killed.
On Feb. 28, Republican lawmakers in the Washington State Legislature introduced a bill that would allow school administrators, and in some cases teachers, to carry firearms in classrooms. SB 6622 allows for concealed weapons to be carried on campus by qualified adults, but does not require it.
Sen. Phil Fortunato (R-Auburn) is the bill’s prime sponsor. He pointed to the Toppenish School District that implemented a concealed carry program in response to the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Conn. in 2012. The policy arms only administrators, not teachers.
The day after the Parkland shooting, Rep. Dan Kristiansen (R-Snohomish) proposed arming teachers who are already trained to use firearms, during a Republican leadership media availability.
Another proposal to address the school shooting threat has drawn bipartisan support. SB 6618, sponsored by Sen. Barbara Bailey (R-Oak Harbor), would require every school in Washington state, public and private, to employ at least one licensed mental health counselor. The bill is meant to encourage communication between students, counselors, and teachers.
Gov. Jay Inslee confronted President Donald Trump on Feb. 26 during a meeting with state governors at the White House to discuss gun violence issues.
Inslee said, “Educators should educate and they should not be foist upon this responsibility of packing heat in first grade classes.”
On March 13, a teacher accidentally discharged a firearm while teaching a public safety class at a Seaside, Calif. high school. A 17-year-old student was injured by a bullet fragment or by debris that fell off the ceiling, police said.
The teacher is also a reserve police officer trained in firearm use — which seems to negate the argument for “good guys with guns.”
Are guns for teachers really the answer anyway? What kind of gun? Where should they keep it? Holstered on their bodies? In their desks? Are they expected to add gun training to the other tasks they are already required to do? Would you feel better if your child has a teacher who is armed? What if the teacher has a bad day?
If more guns could solve this problem, Florida and Florida’s schools would be the safest in the nation. In that state, according to its Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, nearly 2 million people are permitted to carry concealed weapons. There have been three mass shootings, in which four or more people have been killed in a single incident, in Florida since 2016.
Until we stop fetishizing guns in the name of freedom, our children and citizens will continue to be victims of mass shootings.