Friday, December 21, 2012

Arming Educators Is a Bad Idea! Thoughts from a School Principal

After the Sandy Hook incident in Newtown, Connecticut, there have been a flood of calls by lawmakers and news pundits on the news networks to call for allowing educators and school employees to carry weapons as a part of their regular duties. That is a Bad idea!

While I understand some people place a lot of faith in Smith and Wesson, I however, do not share that same faith. Introducing a weapon into a school environment, even if that weapon is being carried by a well-meaning individual, has the potential to be disastrous  on so many levels it’s unfathomable. I will concede that I am not opposed to a law enforcement officer being hired to do this, if having gun in the building will allay the fears of those who think guns are the answer, but turning our schools into armed camps is a bad idea and non-starter for me, for several reasons.

1. Keeping these guns secure at all times could be a problem. As an administrator, this would be extremely important. Even if one child were to get their hands on a misplaced or unattended weapon and harm themselves or another, it is totally unacceptable. Or, what about the situation where a teacher tries to break up a fight, and in the process, one of the students takes his gun away and starts shooting? I would not accept the death of any child or individual under these circumstances as “the price we pay for security.” In spite of the common talking point put out by the pro-gun organizations, “Guns do kill.” They kill both when criminals use them, and when “law-abiding citizens” either get careless or give in to powerful emotions and use them. Schools are often very unpredictable places, and introducing firearms into them makes them even more unpredictable and potentially volatile.  Making sure that these guns brought into the building are secure at all times is another impossible task, since we can’t even guarantee that same security in our homes and in our businesses.

2. What Detrimental effects does  “gun-carrying” on the relationships between educators and their students have? Since we do not have many instances of educators carrying guns, there is of course, no research that I am aware of for this concern. However, I can’t help but wonder how an administrator carrying a weapon suddenly changes how students and staff suddenly begin to view this individual. I’m an administrator, not a police officer. I do not wish to be seen as the “law-and-order” sheriff of my building: the one who is going to shoot the bad guy when he tries to get into our building. That kind of relationship is far removed from my current relationship with students and staff. I suspect that if educators begin carrying guns, there will be changes, even subtle changes, in the relationships between educator and student.

3. Lack of adequate fire-arms training. Filling out a form and attending a class or two hardly qualifies you to engage in using deadly force in public. Using deadly force requires making snap decisions while assessing your surrounding environment. It requires thinking like a police officer, which simply having a concealed weapon permit does not qualify you to do. No educator I know is trained to think like a law enforcement officer in these kinds of dangerous situations. Putting guns into hand of educators who do not have the kinds of gun and gun violence training in extremely volatile situations is a disaster waiting to happen.

4. Guns do kill people. The purpose of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines is to kill as many people as possible is a short period of time. As we have seen in recent events, these do that highly effectively. We already keep a number of weapons out of the hands of ordinary citizens because they have no reason to have them. Bazookas, hand grenades, and rocket launchers pose a threat because they kill people, lots of people at once. Just by saying “Guns don’t kill people” does not make it so.

There are certainly other reasons that I personally oppose arming educators. By introducing guns into our schools in the hands of our teachers, what kind of message does a “gun-toting” teacher or administrator convey? I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to worry about is having a “Rambo” as a teacher in my building.


  1. Very interesting post. I agree with you on the fact that arming teachers is not the way, but I do disagree with you on one point. "Guns don't kill people" is actually a fact. It is the same thing as "Pencils don't write". They don't. People use the pencil (or pen) to write. It is just a tool and only does what it is designed for when used properly. Just like a gun, it is a tool designed for killing. Some would argue that it is designed for self-defense. Self-defense is killing. But a gun just sitting on a table does not kill a person or an animal, but when mixed with untrained and uneducated people on the essentials of gun handling, you should just take a match to the fumes of a can of gasoline. They are both a bad mixture.

    Bravo on not putting your faith in Smith and Wesson. I could not agree more.

  2. I am afraid I will disagree. It's equally a fact that "guns do kill people." You can quibble over the semantics of whether an inanimate object is capable of doing anything other than its intention, but usually when people try to make that statement, they use it to defend guns. If you take that logic to its extreme, you could say poisons don't kill people. You can even perhaps argue that nuclear weapons don't kill people, the people who use nuclear weapons are the ones who kill people. A nuclear weapons sitting in an air base somewhere does nothing of its own, but that certainly does not mean I want my neighbor to own one. In my opinion, there's absolutely no justification for the average citizen to own guns that fire multiple rounds a minute, and that utilize high-capacity magazines. They are weapons designed for mass killing, period. They, like the nuclear weapons I spoke about above, belong in the hands of the military and perhaps law enforcement, not in the hands of citizens. Assault weapons do kill people, and as we have seen, they kill a lot of people, as they are designed to do. Thanks for commenting.