Jeffrey Price: Problems with arming teachers
Published: Monday, January 14, 2013 at 3:54 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 14, 2013 at 3:54 p.m.
Lake County School Board member Bill Mathias wants teachers and principals to be armed with district-purchased guns, which they would carry on campus to protect students. He is repeating what state Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, and others have called for. Let’s think about their suggestion.
Upfront costs to their plan exist that are emotional and financial. One rule of gun ownership is to be prepared to destroy whatever you point at. Sane people do not want to kill other people. The military and police screen their people because carrying a gun and being mentally prepared to use a gun are not the same.
Teachers need a weapon to be both reliable and effective, and a way to carry it, store it and maintain it. It must fire despite minor abuse and neglect and be effective and reliable. One size does not fit all. Organizations standardize weapons because parts, ammunition, maintenance and training costs come into play. Good guns aren’t cheap and cheap guns are dangerous.
Next is lots of initial training. That include firing real bullets and practicing handling, loading, misfires and jams, along with disassembly and reassembly until it is second nature. Then retraining on a regular basis. The goal is to immediately stop a bad person. No gun training is designed to scare or wound. Teachers also need situational training because the event will be chaotic.
If everything is done correctly? This means bureaucracy to ensure compliance with laws, maintenance, training and support. The insurance company will demand this. What is the training and supervisory budget for bus drivers?
Finally, there will be purely unintentional discharges of the guns. The NYPD reported 36 incidents in 2010-11 involving officers. To quote their 2011 Firearm Discharge Report, “The fact of the matter is that, with 35,000 officers and an even larger number of authorized firearms, accidents occur.”
Cross-training teachers to be police officers will be very expensive, dangerous and problematic. I suggest a program modeled on the Federal Air Marshal Service; plainclothes professionals routinely making random visits to schools throughout the day. The bad person has no idea who they are or where; when they will arrive or depart. Don’t keep it a secret - widely publicize the effort. Then every goof knows that at any school, at any time, there may be a professional awaiting them.