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Packing heat on the playground: Teachers with guns

Tiernan McKay is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colorado. Her writing has appeared in magazines such as Alive!, Occupational Health and Safety, Restaurants and Institutions, Tampa Bay and Arizona Woman. Right now, she is either ridi...

Is arming teachers the answer?

Any discussion involving firearms is bound to get heated. Whether you are a gun owner or a gun control advocate, recent media coverage of gun-related crimes has left parents concerned about taking their children to locations that were once considered safe.
Firearms in the classroom
Teacher at the shooting range

Is the solution to arm educators?

Some discussions focus on the idea of teachers having access to firearms in the classroom to protect themselves and their students. The topic is polarizing but unfortunately relevant.

A different world

There’s no question that kids today live in a vastly different world than the one in which we grew up. With dangers lurking seemingly everywhere, the classroom was once one of the safest places we could send them. But some parents are understandably feeling a little apprehensive about sending their kids off to school each day. In light of the unfathomable tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, many possible "solutions" are bandied about on news shows, in school board meetings and at the family dinner table. One suggestion, giving teachers access to firearms in the classroom, has sparked an intense parental debate.

Read about the Connecticut school shootings: How to talk to your kids >>

The heart of the matter

For some, arming educators avoids the true issues that parents are facing today. "It makes me sad that instead of trying to address the availability of semi-automatic and automatic weapons, and the mental health crisis in our country, we would consider arming our teachers with weapons," says Kelly, a mom from California. "What about the kids that might want to do something and didn't have a means before and could now access that teacher’s weapon? All of it scares me and I am sad that my kids’ school experience will be much different than mine."

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A can of worms

While parents trust teachers to educate their children, plenty of parents want to avoid the potential problems that could surface should teachers be allowed to carry firearms. "What if a teacher lost her mind and chooses to use it on a child out of frustration?" asks Jennie, a New Mexico mom. "I don't think this is likely, but I also couldn't imagine someone thinking it is a good idea to go into a school and shoot innocent children. The reality is there are sick people in this world. I support making schools more safe by securing the perimeters of each school so that visitors are forced to enter through a monitored entrance and an armed guard is on duty during all school hours."

Read more about kids and gun safety >>

The smart thing to do

Deterrence is a big component in keeping our kids safe. Some parents believe that arming teachers would deter criminals from causing future tragedies in schools.

"I am a firm believer that in any given circumstance, if one person is considering an armed crime, he or she would give great thought with the knowledge that the majority of people are likely to be carrying a weapon," says Kenny, a California parent.

"It seems that it would be impossible to make teachers house a firearm in the classroom, much less expect them to use it. It is not their job, per se, to put their lives at risk to save our children — regardless of whether you or I would do it on principle alone. Making it part of a job description is wrong, but allowing a teacher to give himself or herself the best possible chance to do so seems just plain smart."

What to do when education becomes violent >>

On the front lines

Should a parent put herself in the shoes of a teacher today, she would probably find that educating is just a part of the daily responsibilities. Sadly, teachers may find themselves having to protect their students and themselves. "I definitely feel comfortable with armed guards at a school and I’m comfortable allowing teachers to have access to a firearm in case of an emergency but only after extensive training," says Erica, a mom in Wyoming. "Of course, not every teacher will feel confident using a gun and they definitely should not be asked to do so, but it makes sense to give teachers a chance to stop extreme school violence. Unfortunately, it seems they are on the front lines."

Tell us

Should educators have access to firearms in schools?

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