Take a Side Not a Sidearm

Annabelle Svenson, Staff Writer

When we were 12, my grandfather brought me, my twin sister, and our 11-year-old brother to a shooting range in the middle of a field in Indiana. He taught us to shoot a pistol and some antique guns. I barely weighed 100 pounds, and my body jerked backward with every shot. This day with my grandfather taught me the amount of responsibility that comes with handling a gun. Don’t teachers have enough responsibilities? Handling a gun should not be one of them. My grandfather has been shooting his whole life, while many teachers have never held a gun. They didn’t get their master’s degrees to become a cop or a correction officer. They should be armed with books and wield highlighters–not automatic rifles.

“If you had a teacher who was adept at firearms, they could very well end the attack very quickly…where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them,” said President Donald Trump. Arming teachers is a hot topic in this country. This debate was first brought up by Trump after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida in 2018. Fourteen students and three teachers were killed, along with seventeen additional people who were injured. While acknowledging the plan was controversial it was stated, “They would go for special training, and they would be there, and you would no longer have a gun-free zone.” This plan was discussed in the White House during Trump’s time in office in 2018, but no legislation was ever proposed and nothing was done. There was a lot of talk, but no politician followed up on their word. While President Trump isn’t in office anymore, recent school shootings, such as the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that killed nineteen young kids and two teachers, have brought arguments back about whether this is a good idea or not.

My grandfather, who grew up and currently lives in Indiana, believes teachers should be armed because he is concerned about my safety in school, and that all teachers should be trained. Problem solved. But what he doesn’t understand is that not everyone has the levelheadedness that he has when it comes to shooting. His solution is not a solution at all. In fact, teachers carrying guns would just mean more weapons are in our school buildings. Is it smart or rational to fix the gun problem in America with more guns? No. Actually, giving teachers firearms will create even more gun violence, whether it’s on purpose or by accident.

Giving teachers guns would create an environment for students that is surrounded by deadly weapons. Teachers having access to guns with so many students around would spark distrust and fear in students, including fellow teachers. This would also make schools feel like prisons. That’s what it would feel like to me if my teachers had guns. Not to mention, like everyone, some teachers have mental health issues. Having a gun in their possession may allow them to make those thoughts worse and act on them. And what about kids messing around and accidentally finding a gun in their teacher’s room, thinking it’s a toy, which could result in more injuries or deaths? Furthermore, teens with mental health issues may get the wrong idea and think that shooting up their school is a good idea. They would be more likely to steal a gun from their teachers. School shootings by teens happen every week in America, but giving teachers guns could change this number to every day.

I posed this question to my classmates at Montclair High School. I asked girls and boys, from freshmen to seniors, and not one student at MHS believes arming teachers is a good idea. One MHS student said, “Do you know how many kids would be killed? If the goal is to end school shootings, you’re gonna do that by killing more kids? That’s what got us here. For the love of god, America stop giving people guns.” This is the overall message I heard from students when I asked them why they thought arming teachers would be more harmful than good.

While the reasoning for arming teachers is understandable to people like my grandfather, it is a misguided solution to this problem. America needs less guns, not more. We need more legislation that will keep guns out of the hands of people with mental health disorders. While banning guns will probably never happen in America, we can take small steps toward limiting them so that only a select few, who go through a lot of screening and background checks, can own one and carry guns. In order for all of this to happen, we need to vote in favor of representatives who will vote in favor of a national bill that will limit guns. The best tool we have right now is to vote. I know that all of you reading this probably aren’t old enough to vote yet, but you can still make a difference by signing petitions online and registering to vote when you turn eighteen. Arming teachers is not a good or effective solution. Too many people are losing their lives to gun violence in America. Guns are the number one killer of kids my age, surpassing car wrecks and accidental injuries. 

Arm teachers with Smart Boards, notebooks, and copy machines. Leave the guns to law enforcement–and my grandfather (also a former cop).