'Should teachers be armed?' Fast Focus: Weapons+teachers = bad idea

January 20, 2013 

I'm not anti-gun. I've owned guns almost as long as I can remember. However, arming teachers is a bad idea for too many reasons to list. I'll focus on one: It sets up a George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin event. Montpelier, Ohio, is going to arm four non-teachers after a weekend training course. "We're going to do it properly," Superintendent Jamie Grimes is quoted as saying. Two days! I'd laugh if it wasn't so serious. Would we consider even a one-week gun-handling course sufficient for our police officers? No!

We'd be telling the armed teachers, "Be caring, nurturing, empathetic, then suddenly with no warning, you must be ready to kill another human being." What if the kid has an empty gun or realistic BB gun? What prevents the armed teacher from going off the deep end and causing the shooting they are intended to stop? Finally, how/where will their weapons be secure but readily available?

Sad to say but the attitude or goal, "We must make sure this never happens again," is not realistic. We cannot guarantee another tragedy will never happen; we can avoid setting one up.

-- CHRIS WOLLAM, Richland

Not the first step

Like so many others I'm appalled and deeply saddened with the slaughtering of the students and other innocent people lately. I personally have no problem with the consideration of placing guns in the schools so long as the program is well supervised. I am, however, concerned with the fact that we are introducing something new in the school when our priority should be to first replace that which we have thrown out of the school system. We need to restore God whom we dismissed from the system to pacify a minority of our citizens. Historically, majority rules.

-- TOM POWERS, Kennewick

Be smart about it

On the surface, arming teachers might seem to be a very extreme measure. However, consider the following: If an armed person, officer, school official or volunteer had been in the building or parking lot of Sandy Hook Elementary on Dec. 14, 2012, at 9:30 a.m., there may still have been shooting but chances are there would have been 20 children and six adults going home to their families, or at least maybe a whole lot more than there are without that person in the parking lot. Adam Lanza had to shoot his way into a locked building, so apparently a "lockdown" did little to prevent the carnage.

I'm not a proponent of living in a police state with armed guards everywhere, denying myself and my family or any other law-abiding people the opportunity to live free. Everyone gets to make choices about how to best accomplish that, but denying people rights to a relatively safe environment, without the fear of assault or death, should not be either defined or rejected without due process. Gun-free zones, drug-free zones and zero-tolerance policies are all laughable and are proving time and time again to produce neither zones free of guns nor drugs. And zero tolerance only needs one act to prove it didn't work.

Arming teachers is not too extreme, but it has to be done correctly. The teacher must volunteer for this task; no teacher should be forced to participate. The volunteer teacher must undergo professional weapons handling training, become certified, and must undergo periodic refresher training. The weapon should not be physically carried by the teacher, rather, it should remain in a biometric gun vault that itself is in the teacher's locked desk drawer. These biometric gun vaults can store up to 30 fingerprints, so all the (qualified) teachers in adjacent classrooms also could have access in an emergency. These biometric gun vaults will prevent any unauthorized access by students while affording the protection necessary to prevent another tragedy.

-- DALE WILSON, West Richland

Guns not the problem

Why not? I think just the principal and substitute principal, maybe maintenance personnel, should have keys the room. I do not think the K-8 students need to see their teacher with a 9 mm on his or her hip.

It's not guns that we need protection from. It's the nuts and crazies that we need to protect our children and students from!

-- DENNIS BURDEN, Kennewick

One size fits none

Arming school teachers or other staff members with guns or stun guns should be an option available to all school districts, assuming of course that all armed personnel have had appropriate training. It seems that just the possibility of facing armed staff would, by itself, be a deterrent to many. There are likely many other steps that could be taken to improve school safety such as improving detection and alarm systems, etc. The actual decision as to whether to arm staff or not should be made at the local level. A one-size-fits-all solution to most any problem does not fit all. Unfortunately, many in D.C. haven't figured that out yet. What we do need is better monitoring of and treatments for the mentally ill.

-- MARILYN YOUNG, Pasco

Protecting our young

It is my understanding that in Israel, the teachers are armed. And they have guns with a sling attached to them. Wherever they go, the gun goes with them. According to the P.T.A., having teachers or armed guards would make the children afraid. Knowing that some deranged individual could burst through the door at any time and start killing them wouldn't make them afraid?

Why don't we post more signs everywhere in America that says "gun-free zone" and let's take notice of how the crazies obey them. It says to them, come on in and kill all you want. No one will oppose you.

Parents all over America place their children in the hands of teachers and since people and times have changed, then they should be required to be armed to protect themselves and those under their care.

-- JOHN FAULKNER, Richland

What are our choices?

Gun control was done from approximately 1994-2004 and made so little difference it was not considered for renewal.

Professional security at our schools would be a good idea but the length of the day (considering activities) and the size of the buildings would require large numbers of people and cost.

Our property, banks, celebrities, politicians and courts are all carefully protected.

Do we really allow laws to say our most precious possessions, that is our wives and children, cannot be protected?

Some school employees, just as some airline employees, may not wish to own or carry handguns to work. I believe a few school employees would be willing to participate in their own protection and that of the people around them. Of course, we must change laws and insurance; institute requirements and supervision. A small allowance to cover the cost of training and certification would be reasonable.

Women activists have demanded the right of women to participate in military combat units because no one can reach the upper ranks without combat experience. It would be a good time to show a willingness to allow everyone to participate in their own defense.

-- KIRK C. WILLIAMS, Richland

Preparedness training

I do not think teachers should have concealed weapons at school. Allowing teachers to have guns will make guns more accessible for students. A kid could easily steal a teacher's gun. Also, if one of the teacher's students started shooting their class, I don't believe that most teachers would be able to shoot one of their own students that they've gotten to know.

However, I do believe that teachers should get special training. It would be good if they knew some self-defense, but they especially need to know how to respond in emergency situations. They should get special training so they know exactly what to do in an emergency situation and are not caught completely unprepared. Each school needs to make sure they have efficient emergency procedures and they need to be practiced every so often.

There should be more security at schools as well. We need to be able to respond to situations as soon as possible and the more help we have to do so, the easier it will be to control the situation.

-- TRACEY BEO, West Richland

Teachers teach, not shoot

It was with disbelief I read that our state representative is vowing to introduce a bill to have teachers carry guns in the classroom.

I wonder where the kindergarten teacher will carry that weapon? Strapped on so that a curious student can reach for, and perhaps remove, the weapon? Or in the desk where someone looking for a pencil or marker could stumble upon the weapon? Or would the weapon be safely locked away, unloaded, and the teacher would have to have time -- after securing the classroom and the students -- to unlock and then load the weapon?

And would this teacher, whose livelihood is helping and nurturing young children or adolescents, then be ready to shoot to kill probably another young person? Mentally ready?

There must be other, more appropriate solutions. I certainly hope so because my family is full of teachers and none of them are ready to shoot another human being.

-- REBECCA JAY, Richland

Guns deter shooters

How many times has a crazed gunman attacked a police or law enforcement facility? Wonder why there are very few such instances? Could it be that there are armed persons who might not take too kindly if they were attacked and therefore reply with deadly force? It seems these crazies go after institutions that are "gun free" knowing there will be little or no resistance.

Some folks want school teachers to be armed. I would support this idea under certain conditions. Any teacher, school administrator or staff should be allowed to carry a personal weapon while assigned to these gun-free zones. But, they must provide their own weapon, have undergone a weapons training and handling course and apply for a concealed carry permit. Those who comply with these criteria should remain anonymous. I'm certain there are teachers, administrators and staff who would be able to qualify and would welcome such an arrangement.

With all of the publicity these crazies receive, how long will it be before we experience another attack on a gun-free zone? Let's get the teachers and staff involved in providing the first line of defense.

-- D. SUTER, West Richland

First victims

If memory serves me right, before the massacre at Columbine High School their school staff included an armed security guard. I believe I read that the two teenage attackers exchanged fire with the security guard. How could a teacher prove she would be faster and more accurate than a surprise attack? How can you train children to avoid becoming collateral damage during gunfire from multiple directions?

It would be nice to live in a culture where children are cherished more than we cherish our guns.

-- JOY K. RASCH, Kennewick

Allowed, not forced

Teachers should be "allowed" to be armed. A few armed teachers may have made a big difference during the school shooting in Connecticut.

If individuals contemplating a school shooting knew that they likely would meet opposition, they might change their minds. Armed teachers would provide a major deterrent to selecting schools as targets. They very likely could take out the shooters in those situations.

Teachers who choose to be armed should be required to obtain a concealed weapons permit including a reasonable background check, and participate in programs on gun safety and defensive use of their firearms. School districts should bear the cost of obtaining the permit and the required training.

There have been more than two dozen school shootings in the last 40 years. Right now our schools are seen as easy targets with no defense. Armed teachers who have been trained in the use of their weapons would change that perception.

I believe arming teachers is prudent and long overdue.

-- RON ASPLUND, Pasco

w Editor's note: Because of space restrictions, letters from J. Sullivan, Benjamin C. Cook, Alta P. Thomas, Bob Margulies and Vic Parrish are posted at tricityherald.com.

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