On March 14, 2018 students around the country lead walkouts. At my private middle school, we walked with signs to University Avenue, a very busy street that connects to the highway. The signs had things like “Stop Gun Violence,” “Safer Schools,” and “How many children have to die before we do something about it?” As soon as we were spotted, people in cars started honking. They clapped, shouted, and encouraged us. When we were standing there, it started to rain, but it didn’t bother anyone because they knew how important of an issue gun violence is. It was a good experience to receive so much support, to see that people cared about the students dying because of gun violence. But it was also disappointing that our country has come to students protesting to stop gun violence. A school should be a place where students go to get an education; we should not have to worry about our own safety.
A teacher’s role should be to focus on the student’s education. For a student to have a good education, they must have teachers that are willing to do what is best for their students; to both learn from and teach them. In an op-ed published by The Nation Magazine, Belle Parker, a visual arts teacher wrote, “My job is to provide a space for inquiry and expression.” A space of inquiry and expression should be a place where the students can share their thoughts and feelings, it should be a place that will inspire students to go above and beyond in their education, whether it’s joining a sports team or doing extra credit. The classroom should be a place to ask questions without being judged, but most of all, it should be a place where students feel safe both physically and mentally. For a teacher to create this space, they shouldn’t have to worry about carrying around a gun or putting their lives on the line; teachers already have enough on their plates. If teachers have guns, they become the school’s security; the school is relying on them to keep the students safe, and that will take away from the focus a teacher needs to teach to the best of their ability. Instead, teachers should be using that energy to focus on teaching. According to Belle Parker, a teacher’s goal should be “to get the kids to invest in learning, to be an advocate for them, to listen to them, to create a relevant curriculum, to turn the classroom into a vital and thriving place,” instead of trying to stop an active shooter and keep their students alive. Being a teacher already requires massive amounts of energy, so to ask them to also protect the students is another big responsibility to pile on them. Teachers should be focusing on teaching students material that will help them in life; not making sure they live a life.
Giving teachers guns is bad because it would make the whole school less safe. Everytown For Gun Safety reports, “Armed civilians make active shooter situations more difficult and dangerous. Armed civilians put law enforcement in danger, delay law enforcement response, and pose a risk to innocent bystanders.” This means that armed teachers could make the situation even worse than it already is. Armed teachers slow down law enforcement because if everyone is shooting at each other, it is hard to differentiate who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. Armed teachers would also be ineffective according to Everytown because, “1 in 160 incidents ended when a civilian shot the shooter—and that one “civilian” was a former U.S. Marine.” This shows that even with training it would still be very hard for teachers to stop an armed shooter. Most teachers would have minimal experience with guns, making the school even more unsafe. Maybe the reason that only 1 in 160 shootings ended when the civilian shot the shooter is because most civilians aren’t prepared to go against a shooter; most civilians don’t want to risk their lives. Teachers can be trained and taught how to shoot a gun, but they can’t be trained to change their willingness to use violence in a few hours of required training.
During our March 14th student-led walkout, we protested that schools should be safe places where students go to learn and teachers go to teach. Schools should not be places where students cower in a corner whilst the teacher goes to hunt down the shooter. Requiring a teacher to focus on all their students is already a big responsibility, but also requiring that teacher to be the school’s security is too much for any teacher to handle. A teacher would have to compromise something, either the school’s safety or the student’s education. Therefore a school’s security should not be a teacher’s responsibility. And even after all the gun training, many teachers would likely find it hard to use violence to stop something; using violence would be the opposite of what teachers teach their students. Teachers should focus on the student’s education, students should feel safe and learn new things in school, and schools should be gun free.