Of all the proposals to protect students from the type of attack that killed so many in Connecticut one week ago, the worst of those is to arm teachers. The last thing we need in our schools is more loaded weapons.
It is important for all of us to remember how vastly numerous schools are and how rare are mass killings in them. In recent years, most schools have increased security to the point at which it is not possible to enter them undetected or at all without being buzzed in. Compared to parks, shopping malls, movie theaters and churches, schools are the safest places kids can be. And they will remain so as long as guns are prohibited on their grounds.
The argument has been made that if just one teacher had been armed, the killer at Sandy Hook Elementary School would have been stopped. Perhaps, but not likely. A teacher rummaging through a purse or a locked cabinet for a snub-nose .32 is at a disadvantage against a homicidal maniac in body armor, armed with a highly accurate semiautomatic rifle with a 30-round clip.
Teachers are not soldiers; they are not police. They are trained to teach, not to kill people. They have enough responsibility already without demanding that they be our children’s bodyguards.
Thousands of people die or are injured from accidental gunshots every year, and allowing guns on school property will only extend this risk there. Are we willing to risk having an enraged high-school student overpowering a teacher, taking his or her weapon from them and using it? Are we willing to risk having curious third-graders play with a loaded handgun found in a teacher’s desk?
Many schools have opted to employ an armed police officer to patrol the halls. With the rarity of these horrible attacks in mind, this may be an overreaction, but at least police are highly trained in the use of their guns and how to deal with dangerous people. That’s their job.
Teachers, more than ever, need to concentrate on their job, which is to endow our children with the knowledge they need to succeed in life. They, too, need a safe environment in which to work. And putting loaded weapons in that environment will not make in one bit safer.