09 Jan Teachers in Arms
“The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with the gun”- these were the words spoken by the Vice President of National Rifles Association Mr. Wayne LaPierre in light of the mass shooting in Sandy Hook Elementary School, Connecticut, in 2012. Statements along the same wavelength have been made, and possible actions are being considered by the US Education Secretary and President Trump in the wake of mass shooting in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida. Federal funds are being prepped to provide rigorous training to school teachers, coaches, and staff officials to ensure the safety of schools.
The decision of arming teachers and staff officials has had its fair share of promoters as well as detractors. Although most of the Americans have voted against arming the school officials, 42% of Americans would be okay with a teacher carrying a concealed weapon inside the school premises. And there have already been many schools that have decided to allow individuals such as teachers, staff members, and coaches to carry a weapon if these people have a concealed carry permit. For instance, in Texas, the school administrators under the ratification Guardian Plan allows teachers to carry handguns and have them locked in a safe. Even the Lee County School board in southwestern Virginia has followed up with the same line of thought and have granted 11 schools the permission to arm their staff members.
But the ‘good gun guy versus bad gun guy’ argument falls flat on its face when it comes to research-based evidence. With the country already plagued by the excessive free circulation of firearms –more than any other developed country- accruing the number in public spaces and especially academic institutions is bound to raise red flags. Boasting an unfortunate number of 88 per 100 people when it comes to civilian owned firearms, a study conducted by Harvard School of Public Health’s Injury Control Research Center, concluded that after controlling various socioeconomic factors and other crimes, places with more guns result in more deaths.
Although there have been specific incidents where a teacher in possession of a firearm has prevented a potential mass shooting. The case of Joel Myrick, for one, aggrandizes the call for allowing teachers to have the possession of a handgun. In 1997, when the former Vice Principal heard a gunshot, he ran to fetch his weapon from his truck and located Luke Woodman, a 16-year-old student with a rifle in his hand. Having loaded the gun and aiming it at the 16-year-old murderer, he didn’t fire a bullet out of fear of hurting someone in the background. This feat of bravery brought a halt to what could have been one of the most tragic events of the mass shooting in US history as recounted by Joel Myrick himself.
But a gallant man like Joel Myrick is himself against arming the teachers since he finds it ethically and morally wrong. For once, circumventing the ethics and morals associated with an armament of school administration, let’s take a lot at how this militarization of school would cost US economy. Following President Trump’s narrative of having 20 percent of teaching force carrying a concealed weapon, this means that 718,000 teachers would need specialized training and guns out of 3.6 million teachers. Assuming a bare minimum exercise for passing the safety requirement for owning a gun, this would cost $71million to US government. Now the procurement of Glock G17, with $500 a piece, would inflate the total budget to $351 million. It explodes to $1 billion if teachers are enrolled in comprehensive training courses.
Moreover, inputs from senior instructors and Police investigators have also cast a shadow of a doubt when it comes to providing training to teachers who have never been in a situation of extreme stress and commotion such as mass shootings. To have a reaction time within the limit of 1 second requires hard and consistent training of muscle memory as well. Therefore, it can never be enough for anyone to handle these situations with flawless perspicacity.