Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters have apparently joined in calls for school districts to consider allowing teachers and staff members to carry guns on school grounds. The Republicans seem to favor not only having armed police officers in the schools, but also having guns available for teachers and administrators.
We have heard the same thing from friends and family. A similar proposal was floated in Tennessee, and it seems like our Facebook page was full of this sort of proposal all weekend.
We are, to put it mildly, skeptical. But what do we know. So we reached out to an expert on this issue to get a more educated view. “I think it’s a horrible idea,” said a former homicide detective who wished to remain anonymous, “Introducing John Wayne and more guns into this mess seems like insanity to me.”
The detective retired from a major city Police Force. Most significantly, he worked on close to one hundred police-involved shootings. He explained that shooting and killing someone is extremely difficult even for highly trained law enforcement officers. “Throughout their careers, officers go through literally hundreds of hours of training. This training includes not only shooting a weapon, but also evaluating the backdrop and target acquisition.”
The movie theater shooting in Colorado was cited as a good example of how someone with a gun can easily make things worse. “What people don’t appreciate is that the training and experience of law enforcement officers provides the officers with the knowledge of when the opportunity to do some good arises. In the Colorado situation, someone who jumped up with their trusty gun to try to return fire in a dark theater surrounded by a hundred panicked people at best probably would have just gotten himself killed.”
Daria DeNoia, a primary special education teacher in Columbus City Schools, wrote an excellent guest post explaining that teachers don’t want to be armed. You should read that, if you haven’t.
The Detective added that a lot of people who advocate arming teachers don’t appreciate the particular challenges of schools. Especially in a High School setting, it’s often hard to tell who is the good guy and who is the bad guy. Law enforcement officers who respond to a chaotic scene might just see someone with a gun and will naturally try to take that person out – even if that person is a teacher trying to defend a school. In addition, he adds, “Arming teachers, absent the training that police officers go through, is likely to lead to a cross fire situation that puts students in harms’ way. In addition, most schools have block walls, so someone responding to an attack has to be aware of the possibility that bullets can ricochet and strike innocent people.”
So there is an expert opinion on this issue. Feel free to share.