Following the devastating school shooting that took place in Parkland, Florida last year, laws were passed in Florida to help restrict firearm purchases and possession. However, the state commission tasked with investigating the Parkland shooting has apparently determined that the events that took place in Parkland last year may have been prevented had the teachers in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school been armed.
Now the state Senate has approved a bill that would arm classroom teachers, allowing them to receive the same voluntary training as other staff to carry weapons in school. This idea may set a worrying precedent that teachers will be armed in schools across the country and expected to take on the role of a militia to protect students.
This proposal could increase the dangers that students are facing. It draws the conclusion that an armed teacher could wound or otherwise incapacitate an armed intruder with their own firearm. However, engaging in a firefight with a dangerous assailant may be a poor option in a school with scared students’ lives at stake.
Giving teachers guns doesn’t solve problems. It only offers a potential solution once a dangerous person is already in a school. They would have already caused harm to be identified as a threat, and that would be too late. Unless the teachers are expected to identify who might be a threat before that person has inflicted harm, this doesn’t solve the issue at hand.
Instead of focusing on how to stop shooters once they enter a school, we should try to prevent school shootings from even occurring. Even if the proposal would lead to lives being saved, which is dubious, it would not prevent the trauma associated with school shootings. Students and teachers would still have to deal with the aftermath of what happens when someone breaches the safe space for learning that schools provide.
More guns for the public and within schools are not what Florida — or America — needs to address the violence that has rocked communities around the nation for years. What school shootings have shown is the need to restrict access to guns and ensure that mental health services and practitioners are taken seriously and that they take their responsibilities seriously.
School shootings have become a large consideration in the discussion of gun control. Some people are quick to say that many gun control proposals won’t prevent gun violence from occurring. But, if any gun violence can be prevented with laws, it is worth it to create those laws. We must do whatever we can to prevent someone from entering a school intending to harm others. Arming teachers is a dangerous distraction from the issues really at hand.