DEL STONE JR.: A big no vote for arming teachers

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DEL STONE JR. @DelSnwfdn

It wasn’t a resounding “no” vote, but most of you don’t think arming teachers is a good way of stopping school massacres.

I agree.

The idea of arming teachers has been around for years now, but most recently it was given new life by President Donald Trump who, in the wake of the tragic Parkland school shooting, advocated that teachers carry guns to shoot back at the shooters. Gun enthusiasts warmly embraced the suggestion and backed it vigorously on social media.

In this conservative enclave of Florida one would think such a proposal – or any that did not appear to impinge on Second Amendment rights – would be supported by a majority of residents, but a recent Daily News poll asking if arming teachers was a good way of stopping school shootings showed otherwise. Over 1,400 people responded, and of those a surprising 54 percent said no.

On the face of it, teachers carrying guns sounds like a logical response to maniacs shooting up classrooms. But I can think of several reasons why that would not be a good solution and might actually make the problem worse.

For starters, I would wager most teachers aren’t well-trained in the use of firearms. Certainly they could be trained, but the safe handling of guns is a practice honed over years of experience. I’m not sure a gun safety course, even if it is repeated every year, would fix that problem. And the last thing we need is a beginner, or somebody who’s uncomfortable with a gun, firing a Glock in a crowded classroom.

Second, teachers of slight physical stature face the possibility that a student could surprise and overpower them, taking their gun away from them. Such assaults occur frequently – we hear about them in the news with depressing regularity.

Another question centers on the teachers themselves. Are they mentally fit to carry a firearm and make life-or-death decisions? A recent incident in which a Georgia teacher barricaded himself in a classroom and fired a warning shot demonstrates that not all educators are created equal. Some may not be a good fit with firearms.

Guns will be misplaced. A recent case where a student resource officer misplaced her firearm at a local school demonstrates that even professionals make mistakes from time to time. Guns might be lost. Guns will certainly be stolen.

And while no cost is too great to ensure the safety of our children, I need to point out the awful reality that many school districts are strapped for cash and can’t even pay for essential infrastructure repairs and improvements. Where would the money for firearms and training come from? Local option sales taxes? The school district’s general revenue fund?

The better solution is to hire more SROs to patrol school grounds, beef up school security and tighten access points, get help for troubled teens, and make it harder for people to get their hands on firearms.

These steps would not prevent gun enthusiasts from acquiring or keeping their firearms, but they might just save a classroom full of kids.

Contact online editor Del Stone Jr. at (850) 315-4433 or Follow him on twitter at @delsnwfdn, and friend him on Facebook at dels nwfdn.

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