As I mentioned last week, the standard conservative solution to stopping school shootings, or any shootings, is that we need more guns. Following the Texas killing, that argument inevitably resurfaced: arm the teachers, let them stop the shooters!
It’s a very bad idea. Of course all right wing ideas on this topic are bad, like Ted Cruz suggesting we just build schools with fewer doors. Cruz, who gets a fortune from the gun lobby, isn’t about to oppose them even though he has no good alternatives to suggest. Sen. Ron Johnson blames woke ideology for teaching some races are superior — because that’s certainly never before happened in American history.
Getting back to the teachers-with-guns idea, it sucks for multiple reasons, including that teachers themselves think it’s lousy. Beyond that:
•The federal government might be happy to pay to give teachers guns — the gun manufacturers will certainly support that — but will they want to pay for classes? Or for the time it takes teachers to learn to shoot? Teachers have a long-hours job already; do “arm the teachers” proponents expect them to take classes in their spare time, because that’s unreasonable. Or will they pull a hand wave — “Hey, that’s up to each school district!” and ignore that many districts won’t have the funding to cover any of that.
•Where can they keep the guns so they’re accessible in a crisis but not a student who wants to kill someone? Do the Arm The Teachers advocates think they should walk around with an open-carry gun on their hip? Because that’s going to be extremely intimidating for kids, something some teachers might exploit.
•If some guy walks into the school packing an AR-15 and they’re not a cop, it’s obvious there’s danger. But what if someone just shows up and the teacher doesn’t think they should be there? At what point should the teacher confront them? At what point is it obvious they’re enough of a threat to shoot first? How do we avoid teachers panicking and shooting an innocent visitor just because they look (for example) big and dangerous, or they’re black or Muslim?
•As mentioned in that last article, it’s possible armed guards, as a potential threat, increase the risk of someone deciding to shoot first? Will seeing teachers armed provoke an attempt at a first strike? Would a bunch of teachers firing as kids and adults run and hide make things safer or worse? Even cops and the military kill bystanders, and sometimes their own people, with friendly fire?
•What about training teachers in alternative methods? Some would-be shooters can be talked down — wouldn’t training in how to do that be valuable?
•How many teachers should we arm? All of them? Half? Only the ones who already have guns? Is it going to be a professional requirement? What happens if a teacher refuses to carry a gun?
All these problems will be multiplied a thousand fold by the structure of our government. One of the problems with improving police work in the US is that every state, every local government, every PD sets its own requirements and handles its own training. Is that how it will work with armed school security? Because the odds are there will be more than a few school boards that don’t think about any of these questions: Just give the teachers some guns, that should be enough. Oh, don’t worry about Charlie’s divorce and his depression, he’s a good guy!
There’s no way this ends well.