More guns in schools: bad idea

Callie Struby, Reporter

Recently as a result of the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, there has been a sudden increase in the urgency of protecting our schools. While many options have been presented one of the most controversial ideas presented by the National Rifle Association (NRA), was to place armed guards in schools or to arm teachers and staff with guns.

The idea has been criticized by a number of people and publications nationwide, including CNN, CBS, and the Washington Post. Even the National School Safety and Security Services experts advise against the idea. However many people including some senators support the idea, seeing it as the only way to protect our schools.

Principal Justin Hunt supports the idea. “As principal it is my duty to protect everyone in this building,” he said.

Hunt explained that he doesn’t believe that he can properly protect people with just words. “I can say ‘DON’T SHOOT!’ but they could still shoot.”

With respect to those who support the idea, as a student I am concerned. I am concerned about my safety, my education, and the money that it will take to arm and train teachers, and staff to safely handle a gun.

There are so many distractions that can prevent students from giving proper attention to the topic at hand, imagine adding to that list the fact that there are guns in the classroom or office. I firmly believe that students can’t learn in an environment where they don’t feel safe.

The Gun Free School Zones Act of 1995 prohibits armed citizens from traveling within one thousand feet of the property line of any K-12 school in that nation, without a state permit to carry a firearm. This act was passed for a reason. It was passed because the idea of guns around our schools seemed dangerous.

Many questions arise from the idea of arming staff. Who do we trust with a gun? What is the gun is stolen or misplaced? What if an accidental shooting does take place? What types of guns are allowed? How do we insure the safe handling of guns? How can we ensure that in a real life situation, the staff will not panic? How can we be sure that training will eliminate panic? The list of questions goes on and on because this is a topic that no one wants to take chances on.

We need to be 100 percent sure that the solution we come up with as a nation is safe, practical and realistic.

Hunt supports that only administrators should carry guns, because if every teacher is armed the number of guns in the school becomes too big. However even then the questions don’t change. So where do we go from here?

First, we need to properly educate students about safety procedures, exit routes, and what to do if a dangerous situation ever arises. Students that don’t know the procedures are easy targets and arming the staff won’t help.  We could have a police or security officer come in and go over lock down procedures with the staff and students. We need to get students get involved in lock down drills. We should educate people, from students to parents to staff, about the signs and things to look for that could be threatening and we need to encourage them to share any information they may have about possible threats.

Second, we need to think logically about these solutions and how they will be implemented. Do we have the money needed to arm and train every teacher or administrator? Will the state or federal government pay for that? How? Will staff pay for it? What if we hired a professional armed guard instead?

Lastly, we need to have reliable methods of communication between staff and parents or staff and the authorities. What about a system that if triggered would immediately notify police? Parents should have access to an app or a way of receiving immediate updates on the situations taking place and what they as parents need to do.

I believe that there are ways to protect our school without guns. I think we need to avoid resorting to guns unless absolutely necessary, in order to maintain a safe, comforting, educational environment.