Carrying a Gun ‘Not Compatible’ with Teaching, Says This Author

Feb 26, 2018 by

Amid the flurry of solutions presented, ‘the only thing that is certain is that America’s youth deserve a safe place to learn’

by Katie Begley

In the wake of the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, in which 17 people were killed, many are questioning how these events could be possible. Gun control, mental health resources, and the safety of students in America’s schools are all being heavily debated in the media and government.

Nikolas Cruz, a former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, opened fire at the school and escaped posing as a student victim until he was apprehended by police and arrested.

What is the solution? Everyone can agree that the problem is clear and needs to be addressed. The best way to address it, however, depends on who you talk to.

Student voices demand action. Students and parents in Florida believe that gun control needs to be addressed before another tragic shooting takes place. They were joined by students all over the nation who walked out in support of #NeverAgain and the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

Students in Florida went to the state Capitol in Tallahassee to bring their voices straight to lawmakers. They demanded that their government address the safety in our schools.

President Donald Trump met with victims and the families of those killed. “Later this month, I will be meeting with the nation’s governors and attorney generals, where making our schools and our children safer will be our top priority. It is not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference. We must actually make that difference,” the White House said in a statement.

Following the shooting, many local authorities are taking action to increase security at schools in their area. CNN reported that deputies in Broward County, where Marjory Stoneman Douglas is located, will now be carrying AR-15 style rifles in schools. The intention of this change is to “be able to defeat any threat that comes on to campus,” according to Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.

Broward County has already made two arrests based on tips received about threatening messages posted on social media. A sixth-grader and a 15-year-old were investigated and arrested. Both told authorities that they made the statements as a joke but are now facing legal action.

Similar tips are being received and investigated in communities all around the nation. This increase is likely due to the fact that tips reported about Cruz were not investigated by authorities. Cruz made threats on social media prior to the shooting, which were reported to the FBI.

President Trump has already issued a ban on bump stocks, modifications to semiautomatic weapons that allow them to operate as automatic weapons. Bump stocks were used in the Las Vegas shooting in 2017 that left 58 dead and 489 wounded.

Gun control changes. One of the solutions that is championed with the most voices is addressing gun control laws in the United States.

Cruz used an AR-15 assault rifle and multiple magazines when he opened fire at the school. Students are questioning why he was able to get hold of an assault weapon at all. Individual citizens are currently able to purchase AR-15 weapons legally, such as in the case of Cruz.

Related: Sheriff Deputies Union Blames Liberal School Officials, Lack of Security Funds

“The only purpose of an assault weapon like this is to kill, and to kill as many people as possible. The AR-15 is not a self-defense weapon,” Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Florence Yared said at the capital. “It is called an assault weapon. Assault. Think about this word.”

Mental health in America. Others argue that additional mental health resources and screenings would prevent guns of any kind from getting into the hands of those who would use them in these types of acts of violence.

President Trump voiced his support of the victims of the shooting on his preferred platform, Twitter, saying that “no child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.”

He added less than a week later that background checks should be a focus of both parties. “Whether we are Republican or Democrat, we must now focus on strengthening Background Checks!” he tweeted.

Is arming teachers the answer? One change that has been suggested is arming teachers. Supporters believe this would allow for a faster response should an active shooter gain access to a school campus.

President Trump met with families affected by school shootings, including those impacted by the recent shooting in Florida. He included arming teachers as a possible step towards reducing violence in schools.

Related: Media Slam Trump Over Handwritten Note at Student Listening Session

“If you had a teacher who was adept with the firearm, they could end the attack very quickly,” the President said. Teachers could act as first-responders in the event of an incident. The president continued to specify that training and qualifications would be an essential part of this solution. Students and parents agreed with him.

“If you could find 20 percent of maybe retired law enforcement officers, or a teacher who could go through discreet training to carry a firearm around his waist, it could’ve been a very different situation,” the brother of one of the victims shared.

President Trump also suggested offering bonuses for those who opt to carry a weapon. The goal of such a plan would be to make schools a less appealing target for potential shooters. Champions of the armed teachers approach argue that potential shooters are more likely to come to schools because they know that they will not face opposition.

The president later clarified his statement, saying that “certain highly adept people, people that understand weaponry, guns—if they really have that aptitude” should carry weapons, rather than teachers in general.

Related: Women’s March Organizers Plan ‘National School Walkout’ for Gun Safety

Other attendees believed that the focus should be on prevention, particularly for those who work so closely with students. Increasing mental healthcare and background checks have also been suggested as possible areas to start.

Teachers should be teaching. Carrying a weapon is a full-time responsibility. So is educating the youth of America.

After transitioning out of the military, I taught for two years in Hawaii Public Schools with the Teach for America program. I have both carried a weapon and been a teacher. And I think that combining the two is a terrible idea.

As someone who would be asked to carry a weapon if arming teachers was the plan forward, I have to say that I would feel compromised. If I am carrying a weapon, that is and should be what I am thinking about at all times. I would not be able to be as effective of a teacher if part of my attention is on the firearm concealed on my person. And it’s not fair to ask teachers to give their students anything but their very best.

In addition to the gun safety issues, it is unrealistic to ask teachers to take action against a student. Teachers spend their own money and personal time to ensure their students have every opportunity for success. They shouldn’t be asked to then carry a weapon that they may have to use on one of those students.

Related: Talking to Your Kids About Tragedy: What to Say (or Not Say)

As someone who has both taught in the classroom and carried a weapon as part of my job in the military, the two are just not compatible. Having additional employees on school campuses to respond to threats may be the answer. But those employees should not be teachers.

If you are carrying a weapon, whether in an open carry or concealed carry position, your focus must be on the safety and control of that weapon. If you are a teacher, your focus must be on the thirty-plus students in your class and keeping them engaged in learning. The simple truth is that you cannot do both of those effectively at the same time. Neither one can afford to be compromised to truly keep our schools the places that we want them to be.

The only thing that is certain is that America’s youth deserve a safe place to explore and learn. No one, students, faculty, or staff, should have to worry about their safety at school.

Katie Begley is an OpsLens contributor, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and a former surface warfare officer. In addition to being a military spouse, she is a freelance writer specializing in travel, education, and parenting subjects. This piece originally appeared in OpsLens. 

Source: Carrying a Gun ‘Not Compatible’ with Teaching, Says This Author

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.