Giving guns to teachers? That’s an army we don’t need – or want

Feb 22, 2018 by

Photo by Sofia Sforza on Unsplash

Ross Barkan – Trump wants to arm 20% of teachers to address school shootings. But why should teachers be armed combatants?

Before I fell into journalism and writing, I taught in classrooms. In college, I studied to be an English teacher, and I was a substitute teacher in New York City. It was a gratifying experience that came just before the most recent wave of horrific school shootings, including Sandy Hook and Parkland.

Teachers don’t ask for much. They want to be paid enough money so they don’t have to work a second job at Macy’s to earn a living wage. They want to be respected by their administrators and their students. They want enough resources, like books and school supplies, to actually be able to teach.

They don’t want guns.

Republicans like Donald Trump routinely try to undermine public education in America. Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos, worships at the altar of privatization. This month, Trump proposed slashing $5bn from the Department of Education’s budget. Among the programs on the chopping block: those to help pay for counselors in schools and violence prevention programs.

Yes, the same Republicans so slavishly devoted to the NRA that they can only cry “mental health!” when another man with an AR-15 mows down innocents can’t even properly fund programs to address the mental health of our students.

Trump may have to reverse his own education cuts to start arming the 20% of teachers – he probably pulled the number out of thin air – he wants to send to battle in our classrooms. As the Washington Post pointed out on Thursday, Trump’s proposal, if taken literally, would mean giving guns to about 718,000 teachers. That’s almost as much as the army and navy combined.

Training these teachers alone could cost the federal government hundreds of millions. That’s before the government starts purchasing pistols for each of these militarized educators.

Why should teachers be armed combatants? Why should time and money be spent on anything other than educating children?

Gun advocates like to point to countries like Israel and Switzerland where gun ownership is relatively high but shootings are rarer. Both countries, however, still manage to have lower rates of gun ownership than the US and impose far more stringent restrictions – mandatory background checks, for example – on acquiring weapons than Americans do.

Source: Giving guns to teachers? That’s an army we don’t need – or want | Ross Barkan | Opinion | The Guardian

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