It seems logical. Let some teachers get concealed carry permits, buy pistols, pack them in their purses or briefcases, or carry them under your jacket or sweater, strapped to your body, ready to use at a moment’s notice. That will solve the problem of active shooters coming on campus to murder students and staff. That’s a predictable response, especially from people who don’t understand what it is like to work in an educational environment, and who are blinded by political rhetoric to the reality of what is actually happening. But it won’t work. Frankly, I think it will make things worse than they already are, if that can be done.
Anyone who knows anything about weapons, especially firearms, knows that a person with a concealed carry permit and a pistol is no match for a calculated killer with an assault rifle. There might be a few more bullets popping around, and there’s an outside chance that a teacher might be able to concentrate, get into position, aim and fire in the middle of a hail of bullets from a modified semi-automatic weapon firing at random, but it is more likely that the teacher would draw negative attention and be shot themselves, not to mention how confusing or difficult it would be if dozens of students are milling around, trying to get themselves to safety.
So what about training? Can teachers, and other school employees, be given the kind of training necessary to confront an active shooter situation? Look at how extensively police officers are trained for the same thing. If you advocate for this method, the necessary training would be extensive. That is in addition to the high level of training teachers must already undergo to be qualified to teach. And we’re not just talking about schools here, because mass shootings aren’t limited to them. In Texas, it was a church. In Arizona, it was a shopping center parking lot. In Colorado, it was a movie theater. Could you find a politician willing to forgo tax cuts to the wealthy in order to pay the massive amount of money it would cost to do this? Yes, that’s a rhetorical question. The vast majority of law enforcement agencies in this country say this is a bad idea, and that’s a virtually unanimous opinion among those who have had a school shooting occur in their jurisdiction.
Teachers are educators. Putting the additional responsibility of being a campus security guard into their job description is not going to make a school any safer, nor will it make the education being provided more effective. What if the shooter is a student, or a former student? After being trained in the way that they are, how easy will it be for a teacher to pull the trigger? And will they survive the split second it takes for that thought to run through their mind before they make that decision? What parent will think that their children will be safer, or better served, in a school where their child’s third grade teacher has a pistol, and would be the first line of defense if an intruder walked into their school building?
Think about this with some common sense. An active shooter with a modified AK-15 and dozens of rounds of ammunition gets into a back entrance of a high school, pulls the fire alarm and starts shooting. Responding to the gunfire, and to announcements that there is a shooter in the building, trained teachers pull their weapons. There are still students running for cover in the hallways, some in classrooms, some in common areas like the library or cafeteria, and the gunman pulls the trigger and sprays bullets. A few teachers decide they have to do something, and start firing back. Now there’s crossfire. The shooter finds cover and waits. Or finds a place where he can still see fleeing students, and keeps pulling the trigger. The police enter the building. Their first sight, upon reaching the second floor where the shooting is coming from, is a guy ducked down behind a cinder block half-wall, firing a pistol their direction down the hallway where other shots are being heard. The police naturally assume it is a teacher with a gun, and leave him alone. Right? Turning schools into war zones is not the answer to this problem.
It would make more sense to provide trained, armed security guards on campuses, and control the entrances and exits. Some schools already do this, as a result of circumstances related to their location, or as a reaction to the potential problems that exist when you have a school where 2,000 teenagers come to class every day. We already do this at airports. Every time I enter a state or federal government building, I have to show ID and pass through a security post with a metal detector. Though we have an aversion to the appearance of elementary students walking through a metal detector, past an armed security guard to get into their school each day, if it keeps the kids and staff safe, we need to get used to the idea. Here’s the problem with that. Getting the politicians to put up the money for it is a problem. Already loathe to spend money on education anyway, those of a particular political persuasion would likely not be willing to give up tax cuts for the wealthy, and for high profit corporate business in order to protect the children of poor Americans in public schools. They’ve already weighed the cost of school security, and done what they’ve wanted with the money, which is why we are still, decades after the first school shooting, still having problems with it.
What makes more sense than any other plan is simply restricting access to the kinds of weapons designed exclusively for the taking of human life. No sensible, legitimate, “law abiding” gun owner sees the ownership of an assault rifle as an expression of the right to bear arms, or as necessary for self-protection. Doing this doesn’t damage the second amendment. It puts a dent in gun manufacturer and seller’s profits, which, in turn is against the prevailing political philosophy of one side of the aisle in Washington. But if you really believe in the sanctity of human life, how much profit is one human being worth?
And this is a sanctity of life issue. What purpose does it serve to go to great lengths to protect and preserve the life of the unborn when you aren’t nearly as passionate about making sure that same life isn’t gunned down in a school classroom 16 years later? It is hypocritical to have a desire to criminalize the use of instruments which are used to perform a procedure that ends the life of a child in the womb, but be in favor of completely unrestricted use of instruments which ends the life of children in school. There is no difference between a medical doctor performing an abortion, and a gun show operator providing someone with the means to shoot kids for target practice.