Editorials, Opinions

Arming teachers misses the mark

Since the Feb. 14 shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, both sides of the aisle have dug into their respective corners, calling for legislative changes.

The national conversation has trotted out the usual talking points: mental health, various bans on various weapons and violent video games.

While both sides agree that the shooting that left 17 students dead should never happen again, the debate has been contentious over the solution. One of the most polarizing solutions has been the proposal to arm teachers, brought up by President Donald Trump and other Republican lawmakers.

While many of the other subjects do deserve to at least be discussed, the Daily 49er Editorial Board believes arming teachers should not even be on the table.

On every level, the plan to arm teachers is ridiculous and too much to ask of them.

Teaching is a special profession. It takes time and a dedication to guiding young people in a way only parents can match. Unfortunately, it is a profession that is not given the respect that it deserves. Teachers are frequently straddled with large classes, long hours and inadequate wages.

Placing the responsibility of a gun on their shoulders is just an extra burden to add in an already stressful job. Not only are we asking them to teach geometry, we are now asking them to take the lives of their students in their hands in a way most never dreamed of signing up for

It also raises the question of training, something that trained police officers have struggled with.

Even with intensive training (cadets in CA have to complete 664 hours) officers have been known to make mistakes in the field. Recent events have shown that law enforcement’s ability to de-escalate standoffs and handle suspects in the middle of mental breakdowns.

If officers with specific training are unable to adequately handle these situations can we expect teachers to be able to handle them?

We saw the nearly disastrous consequences of an armed teacher on Wednesday, when a teacher in Northern California accidentally fired a gun in a classroom, injuring a student.

While this was an accident, we also have to acknowledge the dangers of arming teachers who may snap. A school in Dalton, GA had their own incident when a teacher barricaded himself in a classroom before firing a shout out the window. Before his arrest, he was described as “well thought of” by the principal.

In a political climate where cops are under increased scrutiny for unjustified shootings, do parents feel comfortable having their kids in these classes? Especially children of color?

The answer to school shootings isn’t more of a police presence, and the numbers prove it. It isn’t turning campuses into prisons either, with checkpoints and armed guards around every corner and in every room.

Another potential outcome of militarizing schools is the risk of driving away possible teachers who do not want to become prison wardens. Many will look at the possibility of shooting an intruder, or even a student, and balk at the idea.

It there is anything that the student walkouts have shown it is that students do not want more guns in their schools. They do not need teachers armed at the hip with a six-shooter.

What they want are changes that will help prevent these attacks in the future.  

Instead of throwing more fuel on the fire, it is time for legislators to listen to these demands and start passing gun control laws that make it harder to obtain these kind of weapons.

Arming teachers and adding more police officers to schools will be the last sign of failure. It will mean that we as a nation would have truly, finally given up, and decided that we’re not going to do anything about gun violence.

It would show the world that we have decided changing our laws and our culture was too hard. Rather than look at our personal failures and make the tough choices, we decided to take the path of least resistance.

And we won’t accept that here at Cal State Long Beach.

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