After a Nebraska student entered his school, killed his principal, wounded the vice principal, and then killed himself, there has been legislation proposed in that state for school officials to be authorized to carry firearms on their person in the school. In the wake of so many shootings at schools and universities around the country in the last decade it’s not surprising that some are thinking in this manner. It’s terribly sad but it’s not surprising. Nebraska is not the first and it may not be long in coming.
Several years ago, to help deter airplane hijackings, pilots were authorized to carry firearms in the cockpits of their planes. They had to successfully complete a training course at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center prior to arming themselves but once they completed that training they were authorized to carry the weapons on the plane. Fortunately there have been no instances where a pilot has been forced to use one of those weapons but I’m sure it’s merely a matter of time.
Teachers and administrators face real danger every day in our schools – even more so than pilots. Everyone who gets on a plane is screened for weapons. Granted, sometimes the screening fails to find a weapon but many people, I’m sure, won’t attempt to carry a firearm on a plane for fear of getting caught by security. Most schools today don’t have that type of security. Some do, and that itself is a sad testament to where we are as a society. But most schools haven’t gone that far so no one knows what may be in a student’s back pack.
Would arming teachers and administrative staff solve the problem? I think not. It’s possible that an armed teacher or principal may stop an enraged, murderous student before he kills or injures a large number of people but unless they are able to act before the child begins his actions, people are still going to get shot. And if a student bent on killing believes a teacher to be armed and a threat who do you think he’ll shoot first? But should the teacher have the right and the ability to protect himself, his students and/or his colleagues?
On television, when a kid shows up at school with a gun, some kindly teacher, cop, or the class hero normally talks him out of hurting anyone and giving up the gun. As is proved over and over in our society today, this is rarely the case. (Where is Jethro Gibbs when you need him?) With few exceptions these days no one finds out about the gun until the student begins using it. And by then it’s too late; people are already beginning to die.
While I am not an advocate of banning all guns from ownership by private citizens I am very much in favor of reasonable gun control. Gun ownership is a great responsibility and should be limited to those people who pass a thorough background check that not only focuses on any criminal history but any mental health history. And it should be done for all gun purchases, not only from gun stores. Private gun sales and purchases at gun shows should be subject to the same regulations as the stores. What is the point of background checks for some if not for all? It makes no sense.
This is not a problem I have an answer for. I can see the solution both ways and neither of them is great. Not arming teachers and security personnel in schools will lead to more unchallenged killings and injuries in our schools across the country. Arming these staff could help minimize the extent of the carnage but won’t prevent it. And there are two things I worry about: 1) What if the teacher snaps one day and instead of being the protector of the students he/she becomes the threat? And 2) If a teacher or administrator is forced to shoot one of their own students, how will that effect that person’s ability to continue performing as an educator?
I’m going to let each of you ponder the question and answer it for yourself. I suppose I’m not living up to my usual, opinionated attitude but this one baffles me. I just don’t know what the right answer is in this case. I hope they can figure it out.