Gun Control Within America's Schools

By Cameron Hildebrand

While Americans have the constitutional right to own handguns, this excludes the protection within school systems. The issue of arming teachers has grown and opinions are wide.  No matter your affiliation with your local school, including being a student, parent, grandparent, or even just a community resident, you have some concern about the safety and security within school systems. This topic, however, has many parts. This includes the counterargument, government plans and support, and real life situations.

School shootings in the U.S. have become a chain of events since the Columbine shooting. While a school’s main duty is to teach the children, right behind that should be to keep the students safe. For some, especially teachers and parents, arming teachers is not the answer. In polls and surveys there has been little support for funding necessary actions because these people instead believe that the solution to this problem should alternatively be advancements of security technology. However, others believe that armed staff within schools would satisfy the need to fulfill this duty of theirs.

The federal government is taking action in order to keep the younger generations safe while getting an education. So far, the government has taken into consideration the financing of firearms for teachers, and states such as Texas are in favor of this. The goals of the programs supported by the government are to help pay for a well-rounded education. This would be done by improving learning conditions, enhancing digital literacy, and specifically not buying guns.

Nowadays, the goal has been to keep weapons out of the public's hands and not introducing more guns, especially in the classroom. In an analysis done by Johns Hopkins University, teachers pulling a gun on an active shooter could be disastrous. In midst of the stress, even police officers sometimes fail to stop threats, so how could a teacher do it? This opinion was realized when considering that when people have to make split-second decisions, dealing with a weapon often creates a tragic result. Examples of this being killing innocent people, getting themselves killed, or accomplishing absolutely nothing.

Placing guns within a school is a dispute due to the harms it could caused if used improperly. In reality, if guns are placed in high locations and out of reach for students, teachers are going to have a hard time reaching them when in an emergency. The other side of that is if guns are not locationally placed high enough, then they could be accessed by students. That claim alone states that arming teachers will not make kids safer, instead it will put them more at risk.

Most parents claim that they would prefer for metal detectors and mental-health screenings as tools to keep students safe, according to a survey posted by The Washington Post. They were asked to choose between two ways of addressing school safety. Out of the survey, 76% of all adults and 71% of parents with school-aged children preferred mental-health services for students rather than armed teachers and guards in schools. The poll shows that the anxiety of parents after mass shootings within U.S. school systems has increased. Only one in four parents are confident that the security present at their child’s school could prevent a shooting attack. The others strongly believe that government funding should be used to fix this problem by enhancing security technology.

Nowadays, school shootings are taking place too regularly as a direct result of copycat shootings. There are government programs pushed in certain school systems to prevent these copycat shootings. The ‘guardian plan’ is an example that includes employees who carry concealed handguns and are individually approved by a board of unknown members. The guardian plan is approved through a board of trustees, given extra training, a yearly stipend, and placed strategically throughout the school. The people in these plans are completely anonymous, which creates a tactical advantage. Under this plan, these firearms are to be concealed at all times.

While the opinions are split, many of those in opposition do not know the meaning of living thirty minutes or more away from law enforcement. Isolation is a big part of the introduction of armed staff within schools. The luxury of being easily reached is not available to many rural schools. These rural schools support this however. “I believe guns are tools that can be used for good to stop these horrible atrocities,” says David Thweatt. He is one of many who believe that armed staff should be placed throughout a school’s complex, not just in one or two places, to offer complete safety for the students.

Places such as Illinois and forty other states, do not allow concealed weapons on school campuses. However, the interest of armed staff is still present and school staff are still able to participate in trainings if they are paying for it themselves. While concealed carry in the school system does not seem ideal, teachers are still participating in trainings and going to the shooting range to improve their skills because of how passionate they are about keeping their students safe. The school board has also made the trainings available to everyone by making them free, which has caused 400+ educators to participate. Most teachers are doing everything they can to protect their students. For example, Julie Smith, who is a teacher in Illinois. Julie’s thoughts are, “none of us ever want to have to use our guns… all of us want to protect our kids.” In order to make this happen in states such as Illinois, funding and action have to increase before changing the law.

Teachers pledge for these laws to change because it will provide safety and protection of students and personnel until law enforcement officials respond to a threat on campus. In order to do so, a strict application process has been created in order for these officials to be able to carry a gun on campus. The application consists of six components. These include obtaining a license to carry the weapon, six background checks, learning emergency medical triage, three days of additional training, an eighty-three percent shooting accuracy, and approval from the school board. “We just want to be a step ahead of the resolution,” says a teacher.

Motives for arming teachers is also becoming an awful reality in Georgia. This decision was made as a direct result of the Parkland, Florida shooting. Since then, schools have certainly been urged to go beyond the idea stage of arming teachers. In 2012, it became legal in Georgia for school systems to arm teachers. Additionally, other factors have contributed to the troubling subject of arming teachers. These factors include response times, public events such as protests, and plans of how to keep the students safe, specific to the school system.

It has become obvious that emergency response times are the main issue. Most shooters have a tendency of completing their objective within ten minutes of entering the building. It is very real that the technology to prevent intruders alone is not enough. Protests that attract students, parents, and teachers all have been in favor of the guardian system. They are willing to try anything if it means making the learning environment safer.

This year alone there have been thirteen school shootings. This number is scary especially to the ones involved. Two-thirds of school systems have experienced gun violence at school since the Columbine shooting in 1999. With armed staff or security guards within schools, it would make the children's everyday learning safer.