According to a Washington Post – ABC News poll released this week, 42 percent of Americans believe that allowing teachers to carry guns could have prevented the recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Many gun violence experts, educators, and school safety advocates, however, say President Donald’s Trump proposal to arm teachers is yet another threat to student safety.
Gun violence prevention advocates argue that the proliferation of firearms in the U.S., considered alongside the country’s high rates of gun violence, proves the notion that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” to be a myth. In their view, arming teachers would only increase the number of fraught situations that could endanger students.
Many police officers and safety officials agree that arming teachers would actually put students in more danger during confusing, high-adrenaline situations. Furthermore, safety and education officials say the rigorous training and monitoring efforts that would be necessary to ensure teachers are prepared to safely handle firearms is simply not feasible for school districts already dealing with limited budgets and overextended personnel.
In addition to these concerns, some equal rights advocates say students of color would be put at greater risk of armed disciplinary action should guns be allowed in schools. In a recent Slate magazine article, political analyst Jamelle Bouie points to studies showing that students of color receive harsher punishments and are viewed as less compliant and more threatening than their white classmates to explain this fear. “This is not to say that teachers would take to using their weapons to discipline black and brown children,” Bouie explains “but that there is precedent for physical escalation in confrontations between young people of color and armed authorities.”
Teachers and students across the country have already begun campaigning against Trump’s proposal. In the #ArmMeWith movement, for example, teachers are calling upon the president to provide schools with “weapons” they deem more effective than guns, such as funding to increase the number of school counselors and social workers available to help troubled students.