SHOULD TEACHERS BE ARMED? - October 2007 – A tiny Texas school district revised their school policy allowing selected employees to carry concealed firearms. This is not a free-for-all, but a strictly controlled and monitored program. The employee must have a Texas conceal/carry permit and be authorized by the district to carry a concealed handgun, trained in both crisis management and hostile situations and to use specially designed “frangible” ammunition that breaks apart on contact to reduce the risk of bullets ricocheting off of or going through the walls. Although it was and still is against the law in Texas to have firearms on campuses, there is a loophole that allows for it when there is “written authorization,” and considering the recent shootings in Connecticut, Washington, Nevada, Arizona, Tennessee and Ohio is this a bad idea?
I live in a very rural area-one county over from Chardon, where there was a school shooting earlier this year. We have no local police which means we rely on the county sheriff and his deputies on our end of the county. Their headquarters is a solid 30 minutes away on a good day. If they are on patrol and a call comes in, or there is bad weather it can be longer. Just because I am in the country don’t think my city friends have it any better. One friend who lives 2 blocks from her police station waited nearly 45 minutes for someone to show up at her door when a neighbor called in a domestic abuse situation.
I am not saying that the police and sheriff are not doing their jobs. They are incredible, dedicated men and women who everyday offer to sacrifice themselves to keep us safe. I am simply saying that they cannot be everywhere at once. And in light of recent events, when every minute counts, is it really such a bad idea for the authorities within a school, who are watching over and responsible for our children to be ready in an instant if there is a threat? Is it simply the idea of having a gun brought into the school that is hard, or is it trusting that the one holding the gun will use it wisely?
Think about other places you may go with your children. Hospitals, banks, most malls, sporting events, and more have security guards. You have undoubtedly taught your children to be polite, respectful and that they are there to keep them safe. It is not scary when you know who is in charge; it gives you peace. That’s what every parent really wants, anyway; to know that when they send their child off to school that they will be safe. That someone is watching out for them and will be there to protect them. Our children need to trust that they are safe as well. We can no longer guarantee their safety and as parents that hurts. Texas believes they have found a solution and it has worked well for them these last 5 years.
Consider the following facts, compiled with data collected on school shootings across the USA from 1996 to the present:
1. On average, there are 5 shootings a year, or roughly 1 every 2 & 1/2 months. In 2011, this average rose to 1 every 3 weeks
2. Police were called to the schools and responded appropriately, but not being familiar with the buildings made it difficult to locate the shooter
3. Although police eventually resolved the issues, there was still at least one death
Can I tell you another story? I know someone, a very close friend who went through a terrible divorce from an abusive husband. They had two children, both in school. One day he went to the school and demanded to see his children. He went to one of the classrooms and beat a teacher when she would not tell him where his child was. A custodian hearing the commotion entered the classroom and was also beaten before the man left. He was later found, arrested, charged and imprisoned, but you cannot ignore the fact that two adults were hurt badly and had there been children present it could have gotten much worse.
As I mentioned a few paragraphs earlier, I live not far from Chardon, where there was a shooting earlier this year, in February. I was called to the school because I have a service dog trained in therapy. Although I was not there when the shooting occurred, the sheer emotion and raw pain that emanated from the students outside the buildings was intense. They were in shock, fearful and confused. Many could only weep or stare. TV cannot capture the heartache these young people and the school staff went through and although they are in a new school year now, the memories are still fresh. They walk the same halls, sit at the same desks and have to be strong everyday in a way most of us cannot imagine. It takes a long time to heal from such a traumatic event and you are never the same.
As a parent, I am prepared to protect my family. When they were born, it was my job to watch over them and then, as they grew, to teach and equip them to take care of themselves. Conflict resolution, effective arguing and how to diffuse a situation are all things they learned; as well as how to throw a punch if necessary. Being raised in a home with guns they were taught to respect them and to try not to get caught on the wrong end of one, but if they do…they have a plan. Sound a little dramatic to you? Well, wake up!! Bullying is at an all time high and we have stripped schools of their power to discipline. Teachers and students alike have been victimized over the years with little to no actual consequences. Life and society has changed and it is getting more unpredictable as the years go by. We have some important decisions to make.
Let’s give the authority back to the adults. Let’s teach our children to respect their teachers by backing the teachers’ judgment and decisions.
Let’s become more aware and involved in the lives of other children. Help the parent who seems to be struggling with discipline.
Let’s identify the children who have disruptive behavior and help them develop a positive self image and self-control.
Let’s stop watching silently and step out when a situation arises.
Let’s work together with the schools as a community to make them safer for everyone.
Together let’s say, “The violence stops here.”