By Laisha Harris
HOUSTON-As of June 8, 2022, there have been more than 250 incidents of mass shootings in the United States – 29 in Texas. Since the shooting at Uvalde Elementary School, the Department of Justice has opened an investigation and state representatives are making their suggestions to citizens. While the issue of gun violence is on the rise, lawmakers have suggested that arming teachers could be a solution.
“There are so many things that can go horribly wrong by permitting firearms on school grounds,” says Houston educator Ms. Sarah Taylor. “What if a student somehow gets access to it? What if it accidentally discharges? Who’s going to pay for it? Who’s going to train me? What if I’m too scared to actually use it and it ends up costing my children, or me, our lives? It’s not realistic.”
As a former educator, the suggestion that educators should be armed in order to be able to address active shooters on school property is deflecting responsibility. I pay taxes to “train” individuals who are supposed to be competent in handling situations where an armed gunman is involved, and innocent lives are at stake. From my understanding on the role of police, disarming gunmen is their job, not the role of teachers.
Ciara Smith, a history teacher who has taught for ten years discussed how teachers shouldn’t be armed because it “won’t solve the problem, but only create a larger one.” She further mentioned that, “A teacher’s focus should not be on guns and bullets, it should be focused on the learning environment and curriculum for our scholars.”
Ms. Shaw asked, “How do you expect to arm teachers with guns and ammunition when we literally stock, decorate and fund events for our classrooms out of our own pockets? How do you expect to train teachers in how to use weapons when we’re barely trained on our own content?”
These are very valid questions: how are bulletproof backpacks going to stop someone from committing a school shooting? How would arming adults with weapons in a classroom full of children going to combat the issue of gun violence? Why is the responsibility of keeping the school grounds safe being placed upon the individuals who already do the most work but get paid the least? If the police are incapable of confronting an armed gunman, why would a teacher be expected to respond any differently?
“During the school year, I wake up at 5am, get to school at 6:30am, I teach throughout the day and might stay until 6:30pm at least five days a week. That is my job – to wake up and teach children, for almost 12 years. I was never in the military, I have no firearm training, I don’t keep guns at my home, and I don’t want them near me. Asking for guns to be in the classroom will be the day that I resign,” says Ms. Taylor. The discomfort on these proposals by lawmakers is not limited to teachers.
Recent high school graduate Vaisnave K Pamneer Selvam says, “I don’t think arming teachers is going to change anything. It is a school, so it is not a place where guns should be allowed in. It sends a wrong message since we’re trying to prevent gun violence by using guns – it simply doesn’t make sense to me.”
The conversation surrounding arming educators presents questions that our State representatives are struggling with answering. Educators and administrators will be spending the summer wondering exactly how we can keep our classrooms safe.