Military and Police

The Elementary Teacher: Arming Teachers

As noted in an earlier article, the teacher requested anonymity, in order to speak candidly.  She teaches elementary school in an upper middle class district in the suburbs of Washington, DC.  This segment addresses her views about arming teachers to protect students.

Arming Teachers

President Trump has stated that his administration will encourage states and school districts to institute programs to allow teachers to volunteer to carry a concealed firearm at work.  The goal of the policy is to make schools a harder target, and to introduce uncertainty in the mind of any potential attacker.  The elementary school teacher supports the program enthusiastically.

“A political agenda is keeping us from defending ourselves and our students.  We would give our lives for our kids, but we’d like to do more than just die beside them.”

She said, “I would do it if it were legal.  I will get a concealed carry permit this summer, and will carry at school as soon as the laws are changed.  I already shoot well – my father taught me as a little girl – but I will take intensive training so I can do this safely and effectively.”

“It’s infuriating that people expect us to just sit there and be vulnerable.  Someone’s political agenda is keeping us from defending ourselves and our children – our students.  Most of us would give our lives for our kids, but some of us would like to have the option to do more than just die beside them.”

Inadequate Safeguards

“Our current emergency plan is inadequate.  My classroom has no door, and we can’t all fit in the closet.  For ‘active shooter’ drills, our plan requires us to go down the hall to a classroom with a door, and to huddle down on the floor.  I told the principal that in a real emergency, I wouldn’t do that.  I’d take the kids out the window, into the woods.”

“I can’t imagine just sitting there, waiting in fear.”

“It’s terrible to have to do these drills with the kids.  We do them four times per year, in addition to drills for fire, tornado, and earthquake.  I tell them we do it in case there’s a robber, maybe someone who just robbed a store, who is running from the police and comes to the school to hide.  But they are figuring it out, even at their age.  I had a student talk about Parkland last week.  He’s really scared.”

“It’s very intense, and it weighs on us as adults.  We all think about it, and try to imagine what we would do.  I can’t imagine just sitting there, waiting in fear.  That’s why I would rather go outside.  In seconds we’d be out in the woods, where he wouldn’t be looking.”

Gun-Free Zones Are Soft Targets

“In Sandy Hook, the shooter drove past the high school because there was an armed guard there. He went to the elementary school because it was a clearly marked gun-free zone.  Advertising a gun-free zone is just too risky, too provocative.  It’s just asking for trouble.”

“The lesson of Florida is that they couldn’t trust the authorities to protect them.  There were systems in place, but they were ignored.”

“I like the idea of hiring retired veterans and law enforcement officers.  But they have to be willing to run into the building, toward the shots.”

“Most of my colleagues are terrified of guns.  They hate the idea of arming teachers.  That’s why I am requesting anonymity.  When I hear them object, I think, you don’t have to do it – only a couple of people need to do it.  I would keep it locked up, but could load it quickly if the need arises.  If a shooter came into my school, I would keep him away from my kids.  I would distract him, too.”

“Keep in mind why shooters choose the school.  Part of it is that it’s a soft target.   Part of it also is that it was the place they felt pain.  But another factor is that it’s the place they know.  They know the layout, the building, it is the most familiar terrain to them.  Police are at a disadvantage, because they are strangers to the terrain.  Teachers are not.”

The teacher felt that the systemic failures in the Parkland shooting were a betrayal of the social compact between government and law enforcement, and the citizens.  It was especially a betrayal of the students and teachers who lost their lives as a result of repeated failures by authorities to act.

“What happened in Florida is inexcusable.  We have been told for years, ‘If you see something, say something.’  They did say something, over and over, and the government failed them at every level.  The lesson of Florida is that they couldn’t trust the authorities to protect them.  There were systems in place, but they were ignored, not taken seriously.”

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Bart Marcois

Bart Marcois (@bmarcois) was the principal deputy assistant secretary of energy for international affairs during the Bush administration. Additionally, Marcois served as a career foreign service officer with the State Department.

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