Arming Teachers is Not the Answer

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Raymond Matthews
Staff Writer

In the current dialogue surrounding gun control it seems that most everyone is calling for more and more gun laws; Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently answered this call, but not in the way that most expected. On May 8, Governor Desantis signed a bill into law that will allow teachers to be armed in public school classrooms effective Oct. 1 of this year.

This program literally seeks to fight fire with fire, which could have some serious, nationwide implications if other states follow Florida’s example. First and foremost, the decision to arm teachers sends the message that schools are no longer safe spaces meant for education, but battlegrounds where students are treated like potential criminals and teachers like are pseudo law enforcement agents.

This bill was drafted as a part of the “Guardian Program,” which was developed in response to the Parkland massacre on Feb. 14, 2018, which killed 17 students and staff members. As the name would imply, this program’s core philosophy claims that armed teachers will be able to effectively defend themselves and their students from potential shooters.

Unsurprisingly, this bill has sparked quite a bit of controversy among Florida state officials, state residents, and many Americans who worry about the legal precedent that this bill has set. Some, like Governor Desantis, believe that arming teachers could deter potential shooters and lower the number of casualties in future shootings.

Others, like myself, believe that arming poorly trained teachers and licensing them to use lethal force at their own discretion will result in gross misuse of power and old western-style shootouts that will only increase casualties in future shootings.

Classrooms are designed to be collaborative, comfortable spaces meant to facilitate learning and to make students excited about education. Seeing a teacher carry a gun on their hip could completely change the classroom environment from an educational haven into a space that constantly reminds students of potential danger and violence.

It is also quite possible that school shooters will no longer just be students or outside aggressors, but the teachers themselves. Teachers are not screened or trained to carry firearms like law enforcement officials are, making it unrealistic to expect that they’ll make effective, tactical decisions in the midst of an active shooting.

It’s far more likely that teachers would make the wrong call in situations that they are not trained to deal with, or even potentially abuse their power. Teachers with prejudices could choose to inflict violence upon special needs students, racial minorities, or any students with behavioral problems, thanks to this new source of relatively unchecked power.

One must also question where the money for purchasing firearms and training teachers to use these firearms will actually come from. Florida is currently rated 48th in the nation for teacher salaries already, so it would seem that buying firearms and paying for training sessions is a gross misallocation of funds that would be better spent improving educational tools for the students that this bill claims to be protecting.

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Raymond Matthews is a second-year student from Rocklin, CA, pursuing a Political Science major and a professional Journalism certification. He loves yoga, pilates, listening to 70’s music, and watching classic black & white movies.