By Vincent Gullo | Staff Columnist
An interesting quality about modern political discourse is that in the wake of tragedy and desperation, players from both sides of the aisle still find ways to belittle their political adversaries. The horrific shooting at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida was viewed as the last straw for many people. Something, anything, needed to be done in order to halt an all-too-normal cycle: shooting, grieving, no action, shooting again.
Politicians and commentators from both sides of the political coin offered up a myriad of suggestions on how to change this pattern. Along with the usual prospective proposals of increased background checks, heavier crimes for offenders and altering the list of purchasable guns, one idea came to the table that had yet to be introduced. That idea, which had been informally bounced around the political rumor mill but publicly introduced by President Donald Trump, is to arm teachers in the classroom. Trump, who wanted to measure the reaction of the room, proposed the idea — along with offering bonuses to teachers who chose to conceal-carry in schools — during a sit down with victims of the Stoneman Douglas shooting and their families.
While the proposal has received support by some, others immediately dismissed the idea, many considering it even laughable. Despite its criticism and caricaturization by the internet (check Twitter memes), the proposal has found its way into the discourse of our lawmakers. Although controversial and certainly not a wide-sweeping fix, simply throwing ideas away is not an efficient way to go about solving the mass shooting problem in the United States.
It seems that, whether due to the media’s general abhorrence for anything that President Trump utters or simply his lack of effectively conveying ideas, the idea of arming teachers has gotten misconstrued. Although there have been proposals to begin arming and training teachers, there have also been those that simply allow teachers with previous conceal- carry permits to be able to carry on school grounds. If a teacher is legally able to conceal carry for the use of defending themselves and those around them outside school property, why couldn’t they on school property also? Whether it be using a conceal carry to defend a student in McDonald’s or math class, the location is arbitrary if the intentions are the same. The law currently restricting this is the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994, which prohibits firearms on school grounds, especially among students. A simple exception to this law, allowing qualified teachers with concealed-carry permits to carry on campus, would act as another deterrent for possible shooters. Also, by simply amending a law as opposed to writing entirely new legislation, this proposition can become reality much sooner than entirely new laws.
Jim Krohn, a social studies teacher at Clarksville Junior High School in Arkansas, which allows teachers to be armed, shared similar sentiments. In a report done by CNN, Krohn is quoted saying, “If we didn’t do this and somebody came into this building or any of our school buildings and harmed children, it would be hard to go to sleep that night thinking what else could I have done, and at least we’ve done what we think is the best thing to protect the children of Clarksville school district.” Those who wish to help are certainly interested, and although it is by no means a definite fix for such a complicated issue, I don’t think it could possibly do more harm than good.
Like anything proposed in this modern political environment, and perhaps rightfully so, the proposal has brought up many criticisms. People look to impracticality of training teachers, the level of effectiveness, potential dangers and opposition of the idea of making a school a “fortress.” These concerns, although understandable, are missing the point of what the proposal was attempting to get at. To consider this an end-all solution would be ignorant, but the idea that erratic teachers will start shooting students that act out, or the notion that teachers will get into OK Corral-esque shootouts with
deranged shooters is equally as foolish.
There are certainly things that could go wrong, as there are with any piece of legislation. The issue here is, if the problem as dire as the high school walkouts, marches and other protests make it seem, why are we just disregarding such a low-effort solution? Even though it was not formally Trump’s idea, the proposition is now stigmatized by some because of his endorsement of the idea, even attributing the idea to him entirely. Articles such as “What If Trump’s Serious About Arming Teachers?” by Bloomberg and the Washington Post’s: “Trump’s solution for school shootings: Arm teachers” give impressions that this is a lazy, Trumpian fix-all for school shootings. It isn’t, and it was never intended to be. As a political culture I think it’s important not to dismiss ideas because we have an issue with where the ideas come from. Even if it isn’t the most perfect idea, it still deserves to go under the same scrutiny that would an idea coming from a person you like or respect.