Why arming teachers would be like fighting fire with fire

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Why arming teachers would be like fighting fire with fire

Maddie Phelps '19, Web Managing Editor

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It sounded just like fireworks, like the fourth of July. But then it grew louder and louder, the pop, pop, popping of a machine gun flying down the hallways, searching for a body, any body, to pierce through and make its next victim. You’re running to hide, running to save your life; but then you see it. An AR-15 pointed directly at your shaking body. You’re helpless. You squeeze your eyes shut and hear the loudest pop of all.

And then you wake up.

It’s a nightmare that has American teens thrusting out of bed, sweating, panting and finally sighing that it wasn’t real. But it was real at Parkland. It was real at Sandy Hook. And it was real at Virginia Tech and at Columbine and at the hundreds of other schools across the nation where mass shootings, or threats of ones, have occurred. Including our very own school.

There’s a seemingly infinite amount of solutions, or at least steps that can be taken, to terminate mass shootings at American schools. But arming teachers with guns is not one of them.

Following the school shooting that took the lives of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School this past Valentine’s Day, President Trump proposed that arming 20 percent of teachers would help prevent or minimize mass shootings at schools.

Now, I’ll applaud the president for looking to take some sort of action to find some kind of solutions. But implementing arming teachers would just be taking several giant steps backwards.

The real problem of the overwhelming amount of school shootings is simple: it’s the guns themselves. As the immense number of guns correlate to the immense number of mass shootings in this country. According to CNN, although the U.S. only makes up 5 percent of the world’s population, it’s home to 31 percent of global mass shooters. And the fact that, on average, 89 per 100 Americans own firearms and have had 90 mass shootings since 1966 is not a coincidence. Countries like Canada, who have considerably less guns per person (30.8 per 100 people) have had eight mass shootings in the past 20 years. America has had 34 mass shooting incidents in 2018 alone.

So, why would adding more guns to the mix be a logical idea? With more guns circulating around the country, the more opportunities people who wish to harm others will have to get their hands on one. And whether or not you believe that the abundant amount of guns in this country is the biggest factor in the overwhelming number of mass shootings, it’s clear that it’s making a notable difference.

Here’s one last point to consider for why arming teachers with guns would only worsen the issue at hand: teachers are human, too. They’re not immune to mental illness, they’re not immune to feeling betrayed, or hurt or frustrated. That being said, what would stop a disturbed teacher from pulling their gun out on students if they’re hungry for some sort of revenge or sick satisfaction? Or, what if a student somehow managed to steal a gun from a teacher and turn on their class? Either way, you’re left with a group of at least 20 kids, innocent, defenseless, then dead.

But this fight to diminish mass shootings at schools is far from over, and there are so many steps the country can take to prevent mass shootings at schools from becoming what has been a weekly occurrence this year. Contrary to arming teachers, we need to start at the root of the problem and take action to prevent these shootings from happening, not giving teachers guns to use when something does happen.

On a local level, require each student to wear an ID that allows them to enter the building, install metal detectors or install bullet proof windows on doors. From a governmental standpoint, ban the purchase of semi-automatic and automatic weapons, and make the process for purchasing a gun a hundred times more difficult and more strict than it is today.

Realistically, there’s no way the United States will ban guns completely; it’s virtually impossible because it’s guaranteed in our very Constitution. But sacrifices can and need to be made. No one needs a machine gun for hunting a deer, and the purchase of a gun should be far from quick and easy. The lives of millions of American children, the future of our country, should be overwhelmingly more important than a gun-lover’s inconvenience. No questions asked.

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