The Case Against Arming Teachers

Ryan Nick, Editor-In-Chief

In the United States, gun control has been a topic of heated debate for quite some time, and after recent school shootings, possible solutions have been proposed across both political aisles to solve the problem of school shootings.

However, once you go beyond the statement I just made, controversy will undoubtedly ensue. Unfortunately, citizens from both the Left and the Right have made egregious moral claims about people that they barely know. Thus, I would like to begin my argument by clarifying my stance while simultaneously acknowledging that people are not bad people simply because they disagree with you.

That being said, you might be slightly surprised to learn that I am conservative based on my position. Nonetheless, I find it abhorrent to degrade my political opponents by suggesting that they are soulless human beings with no moral compass. In my view, there is an extremely small minority of people that have legitimately terrible motives, whereas the vast majority of Americans on both sides of the political spectrum are good, moral people with differing perspectives.

With that out of the way, let’s begin my argument against the arming of teachers in public schools.

  1. When taking on the perspective of a parent, I would rather not have teachers that I hardly know be in possession of a firearm at school.

Simply stating, “Arm teachers!” isn’t a viable solution to me. When considering a parent’s perspective, it quickly becomes clear that there is not enough time spent between teachers and parents to get a true understanding of each other’s character and values. In essence, parents and teachers don’t have a close enough relationship to extend the duties of a teacher to the protection of their child with a firearm.

Granted, one might argue, “What about the police? We trust them every day to protect us, and we probably don’t know them personally.” However, when you consider that a teacher’s primary function is to educate, whereas a police officer’s primary function is to protect and serve, it quickly becomes clear that we have to trust the police to some extent, especially since they’ve built a career around protecting citizens of the United States.

Thus, I don’t believe that most parents would be comfortable with a change as impactful as arming teachers would be. While I’m certainly not claiming that this would lead to a school environment that borders on unethical or immoral, I am saying that a teacher’s job should be to learn how to properly teach and educate our children. They have a designated role in society, same with police officers. This leads me to my next point.

  1. Hiring more school resource officers would be a much more viable alternative to arming teachers.

Since teachers have been designated with the role of educating our youth, hiring school resource officers (SRO) to protect all public schools across the country would be a more effective solution to the problem that we are currently facing in the United States. With SROs employed throughout the country, schools would be able to respond to everything from fights (which are normally broken up by teachers) to shootings in a matter of seconds, rather than minutes.

School resource officer Stacy Boyd chats with students in Ferris High School, New Jersey in 2015.

As we’ve already seen in Great Mills, Maryland, SROs are able to effectively halt a school shooter. Implementing more SROs would undoubtedly increase the security at schools, aiding in the prevention of school shootings due to the intimidation factor of having an officer always on duty, along with the ability of schools to respond to a shooter in seconds.

While Roger Sollenberger, a columnist at Paste, suggests throughout the first section of his article that the enormous cost of hiring and training SROs wouldn’t be worth it, I would gladly disagree.

According to an extensive and detailed study done by Dr. Linda Duxbury and Dr. Craig Bennell at Carleton University in January of this year there are several benefits to hiring and training SROs. These benefits are listed below:

  • Prevention or minimization of property damage in the school and surrounding areas.
  • Prevention of student injuries and even death due to violence, drug overdoses, etc.
  • Reduction of the need for schools to call 911.
  • Reduction of the likelihood that a student will get a criminal record.
  • Increase of the likelihood that students (particularly those with mental health issues) will get the help they need from the social service and health care systems.
  • Increase in feelings of safety among students and staff

In addition, the study also found that for every dollar invested in the program, a minimum of $11.13 of social and economic value was created. Thus, Mr. Sollenberger seems to only focus on the immediate cost, and lacks a big-picture view of issue.

If you’re interested in discussing this issue with me, please feel free to either Email me at [email protected], or find me during school if you’re a student. I welcome a good-spirited debate!