April 24, 2018

GOA Faculty Believes Arming Teachers is Not the Answer to School Shootings

Sam Rigante ‘21 and Michael Lurie '21

Would more armed teachers and faculty members around United States schools really stop school shootings? President Donald Trump seems to think so.
After the recent Parkland massacre where 14 students and three teachers were killed, the President sparked outrage after suggesting an idea to arm teachers, up to 40 percent, with firearms to prevent a shooter.
“Shooters won’t walk into a school if 20 percent of people have guns,” the President said at a listening session with the Parkland survivors on February 21.
Trump’s suggestion included only the most adept teachers would be qualified to carry a firearm.
“Well-trained, gun-adept teachers and coaches,” Trump said regarding which teachers would be able to carry guns in school. “I mean, I don't want to have a hundred guards with rifles standing all over the school. You do a concealed carry permit. This would be a major deterrent, because these people are inherently cowards.”
President Trump, however, did not come up with this idea. It had been touted by the NRA as far back as 2005. After a Minnesota high school shooting that left 10 dead, then-NRA Vice President Sandra Froman told the Associated Press, “I’m not saying that that means every teacher should have a gun or not, but what I am saying is we need to look at all the options at what will truly protect the students.”
The President received almost immediate backlash from many teachers, teacher unions, and Americans, who have claimed the idea makes no sense and is implausible.
The National Education Union, which is the largest union of its kind and has members ranging from K-12 teachers and college professors, responded to the President’s idea with swift reprisal: “Bringing more guns into our schools does nothing to protect our students and educators from gun violence. Our students need more books, art and music programs, nurses and school counselors; they do not need more guns in their classrooms. We need solutions that will keep guns out of the hands of those who want to use them to massacre innocent children and educators. Arming teachers does nothing to prevent that.”
These teachers are not the only ones who believe this. GOA’s teachers, as well, almost unanimously, believe teachers should not be armed, and that doing so could only cause more trouble.
In a recent poll of the GOA faculty, where 33 out of 67 teachers in both the middle school and high school were interviewed, all 33 believed arming teachers was not the answer to the school shooting problem in America.
He's never been in a classroom and it is ridiculous to think that teachers should be armed,” science teacher Mr. Gerstle said about the idea. “There are too many things that can go wrong.”
Along with this, the majority of GOA’s teachers said they would be afraid to shoot a gun, if they had to, in order to prevent a shooter. Many also said they were unsure of what they would do, as they had never held a gun before. Most of GOA’s teachers, excluding the Hebrew teachers, have never held a gun before.
“I would never use a gun,” Hebrew teacher Morah Caspi said about the issue. “I was in the army and I would never even think about getting a gun.”
The teachers were also asked if they would be comfortable knowing their colleagues or other faculty members in the school had guns on them. Most said no, with a few saying it would depend on who had the guns.
“I would rather have professional people who are trained, or recently trained to do something,” Morah Keren said.
Adam Shapiro, Head of School at GOA, sincerely believes guns do not belong in school, and that, as Head of School, he would not feel comfortable knowing teachers were teaching students with firearms on them.
“I do not think that that's something that's necessary,” Mr. Shapiro said. “As far as I'm concerned, my overall feeling is that schools have a responsibility to be safe places for teachers to students and staff to come to work every day. We have a responsibility to put protocols and policies in place that do that.
“My number one goal for all of our teachers is that they teach, they be really good at teaching and they be trained to be teachers and not trained for other things. I don't believe that it solves issues to have guns in schools and having teachers carry guns in schools.”
Having firearms in school could potentially lead to other problems and teachers expressed their opinion that a number of things could go wrong if guns were introduced to classrooms. This was proven recently when an armed teacher in California accidentally discharged a firearm and injured a student. Pieces of the bullet hit the ceiling and rebounded onto a boy’s neck, injuring him.
Some schools around the country already have laws in place that allow teachers to carry guns into school and about six states are planning on introducing legislation which would allow teachers to do so.

“We need to make sure that we doing things to be aware and keep ourselves safe and keep our school safe,” Mr. Shapiro added. “I would not think that that includes arming teachers.”

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