Recently I was reading about the new legislation being introduced in my home state of Missouri. As I was scrolling down the list of House Bills that were introduced, one particular one caught my eye. It was HB70. The summary is as follows:
HB 70 — Firearms on School Premises
Sponsor: Kelley (127)
This bill allows a teacher or school administrator with a valid
concealed carry endorsement or permit to carry a concealed firearm
into a higher education institution or elementary or secondary
school facility without the consent of the governing body of the
higher education institution or a school official or the district
I know that some states such as Utah and Texas already allow teachers to carry firearms in the classroom. I am also aware that several other states currently have legislation similar to HB70 being introduced. As a certified teacher in Missouri and a former instructor of firearms I don’t know if I can begin to tell you how bad of an idea this is.
But I’m gonna try.
Having firearms near students is a bad idea for several reasons. One of which is that it would be intimidating or even downright scary. I was taught very early on to have a healthy respect for guns and what they can do if improperly used. Unfortunately, not everyone gets that. More students than you might expect have very little experience with firearms. I recall times when I would be teaching a class on gun safety that many of the kids wouldn’t even come near the firearms…even when no one was touching them, the safeties were on, and they were unloaded. In order to respect but not fear a firearm, you need training in gun safety. But the classroom is not the place for that.
A teacher’s job requires them know how to get their students to learn. They should know relatively quickly how their students learn and what causes them to stop. If even one student is distracted by the firearm the teacher is carrying, they’re not doing their job.
Of course, there are some students who are not intimidated by firearms in the slightest. I know several that have carried, used, and are quite safe with them by all accounts. But those students in most schools are the minority. Most either know very little about firearms or only what they see on television.
We can’t forget, however, the other end of that spectrum. I can think of at least 10 students off the top of my head that would have, as a joke, unsnapped a gun out of a teacher’s holster. It isn’t hard to imagine. It is possible for a teacher to be so totally focused on their teaching or classroom management that they aren’t focusing on anything else. A teacher leans over to help a student and while he or she is distracted…whoops. Now what? The student gets a suspension or worse. Oh yeah, the teacher gets fired…if they’re lucky.
I can also think of one student who would have unsnapped it and tried to use it.
Some will say that firearms will add another layer of protection to the resource officers that are already there. I have a counter for those people: work on keeping the psycho’s off the school grounds first. If an armed intruder has made it far enough into a school that they are able to start shooting, security procedures should be analyzed. Security at a LOT of schools I have visited is lax. I can recall driving up to some schools with gates and either the gates were unmanned or the guard just waived me in. Multiple entry points, not enough resource officers, untrained security guards, virtually no CCTV, etc. Perhaps the government should take the time to examine security issues such as a superintendent in South Dakota suggested. He wanted to have session in the summer where all security problems would be examined and then solutions implemented. Instead, South Dakota signed a bill similar to HB70.
The summer session isn’t happening.
For those teachers who disagree with me and wish to carry in schools, I ask you to consider this: A police officer goes through hours upon hours of training to become proficient with a handgun. They then go through more training in order to be ready for any hostile situation. Even then, some freeze up. Are you saying that you’ll be as good as a trained officer? Even if you are ready and able…when the time comes…will you be willing? Moreover, your first priority should be making sure the students are safe and emergency procedures are being followed. If you’re worrying about threat assessment, you’re not focusing on your students. Which one will it be?
For the responsible gun owners, a crowded classroom is not the place for a firearm. I know this as a teacher and an instructor of gun safety. As much as a teacher would try to be responsible with a gun, there are too many chances for something to go wrong. Even if you trust the teacher, can you trust every student?
Now, let me be clear, I do not want firearms banned. I DO NOT. I do believe, however, that there are better options for keeping our students safe. Please, ladies and gentlemen, if a vote on this issue comes your way, vote no. Our government can do better.