With school shootings increasing across the United States, everyone has been asking this question: Should teachers carry guns in the classroom? This topic is hotly debated on social media and is covered by all sorts of media outlets. Not only is this issue very relevant in today’s increasingly violent society, but it is also a sensitive issue since it involves education and the safety of the youth of America. Gun control has been a hot topic for years, but it used to be a given that guns were not permitted on school campuses. As of 2016, 9 different states allow “campus carry” which permits faculty, students, and others to carry concealed handguns on campus.
In recent years, gun control laws regarding schools have been delegated to the individual schools in a lot of states. While 21 states defer to the university or school to permit or deny guns on campus, only 11 states strictly prohibit guns on school campuses. With the election of conservative Donald Trump, you can expect this trend of
lenient gun control laws to continue. Many people see the school shootings on the news and demand protection for our students. They think that having more guns on campus will prevent these shootings from happening, but in reality the guns just make the environment more dangerous. Don’t get me wrong though, increased security on school campuses is never a bad thing, but increased guns is.
The reason school shootings usually shock the American people so much is because schools are supposed to be safe havens for children to learn, and they usually are exactly that. A report by the U.S department of Education and Justice approximates that only 1% of all school-age homicides occur on school grounds or at a school even. During the 2010–2011 school year, there was approximately one homicide or suicide of a school-age youth (K-12) at school per 3.5 million enrolled students. This shows that school shootings are rare, and adding guns to the equation will just make it worse.
So my question is why allow guns on school campuses when the past federal laws on gun-free zones have reduced gun violence? Student homicide rates have decreased significantly since gun-free zone policies were adopted in the 1990’s. Some schools are allowing guns on campus if a teacher is carrying it. These teachers receive intense training to be allowed to carry handguns as if they are law enforcement officers. Teachers are meant to teach and be a role model. Instead of handing our teachers guns, our gun violence prevention should focus on informing students about the dangers of firearms and instructing gun owners how to keep their guns secure.
Not only is arming teachers becoming more common, but so is allowing students to conceal carry on college campuses. Allowing guns on campus could lead to more campus homicides/suicides. Young adults from age 18-25 have a very high risk for mental illness, so young adults carrying guns on campus could potentially be very dangerous. According to American College Health Ass’n, National College Health Assessment, between 9% and 11% of college students seriously consider suicide. In terms of suicide, an attempt to take one’s life is much more fatal when it involves a gun. The risks of allowing guns on college campuses greatly outweighs the benefits.
The main argument of those who advocate arming teachers/students is that many school shootings can be prevented if someone at the scene has a gun. Although this is a possibility, many cases show that a school shooter has the element of surprise, and won’t be stopped so easily. In the infamous Columbine shooting, an armed officer had a gun fight with one of the attackers but still couldn’t stop him from entering the school. What people don’t understand is that even a trained individual will not be able to stop a school shooter. Trained law enforcement officials only have a 20% hit ratio in armed confrontations meaning they miss 80% of their shots. You can only imagine what a teacher’s hit ratio would be. Missing their intended target isn’t the only issue either. There are many cases where law enforcement officers make the wrong decision to when deadly force is necessary. If a teacher makes this mistake, an innocent student could be killed. The focus should remain on keeping guns out of the classroom instead of relying on teachers to prevail in a shoot-out.
Our country will always be split on our opinions on gun control, but the facts show that more guns means more violence. The presence of guns on school campuses is an extremely dangerous idea that should not be put into place. Allowing teachers/students to carry guns in schools will not make the school safer, but actually decrease the overall safety of everyone due to the misuse of these dangerous weapons.