Zoya Wazir

The Parkland shooting spurred many students to take action and protest gun violence.

Zyva Sheikh, Editor

Welcome to the United States of America: the country that previously banned the sale of Kinder Surprise Eggs out of fear that they would be a choking hazard for children, but remains adamant on enabling its civilians to own an AK-47, a weapon that is far more capable of claiming a life than a plastic toy.

This year alone, there have been 21 shootings on or near school grounds. This requires on average approximately two shootings per week, two more than there should be. In order to combat this increase of violence in learning centers, the government is considering granting educators permission to carry more weapons capable of murdering students and staff on campus. 

This action has been heralded by the president as “concealed carry.” In theory, teachers would be able to defend themselves and their students in the event of a shooter on campus. However, the responsibility to educate a child and to protect them, with lethal force if necessary, are two very different duties. Police academies require each recruit to spend at least 71 hours training with firearms. It will take more than a few sessions of “special training” to ensure that teachers are capable of handling the same weapons as police officers.

All mass shooters have a catalyst behind their destructive outbursts, whether it is a desire for notoriety or a sense of grievance. Oftentimes, these tragedies are the result of a mental illness, such as depression or psychopathy. Out of 34 of the deadliest single day mass shootings in US history from 1949 to present, 16 have resulted in the perpetrator committing suicide after their rampage. Therefore, arming teachers to fight a suicidal person will likely not diffuse these situations.

Mark Barden, the father of 7-year-old Daniel Barden, who was shot to death during the calamity at Sandy Hook Elementary, said, “A deranged sociopath on his way to commit an act of murder in a school, knowing the outcome is going to be suicide, is not [going to] care if somebody is there with a gun. That’s their plan anyway.”

Furthermore, it’s dangerously possible that students could get their hands on a teacher’s gun and fire it. This year alone, there have been two events in which a student shot a gun on campus due to an officer inadvertently supplying them with the weapon. At Harmony Learning Center in Minnesota, a third-grader pressed the trigger on a school liaison officer’s holstered weapon, causing it to fire and strike the floor. In addition, at Grayson College in Texas, a student picked up a licensed peace officer’s loaded gun, which they assumed was unloaded. She then fired a bullet that went through a wall and shattered a window. Fortunately, the best case scenarios occurred, and the shootings were unintentional with no victims involved. If these issues were able to take place with a certified officer present, imagine how great the potential of collateral damage would be with an ordinary teacher.

Many who oppose teachers carrying weapons propose providing security guards with bigger guns instead. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said that qualified deputies would begin carrying AR-15 rifles on school grounds. However, we must not forget that the armed school resource deputy on campus during the Parkland school shooting never went in to defend students and colleagues. Even if he had, the shoot-out that would have taken place between the guard and the killer would have had the capacity to end more lives than the single shooter.

To protest the arming of teachers on campus, many educators have initiated a movement called #ArmMeWith. They are telling authorities to not arm them with guns, but with books and counselors and social workers. Arm them with ample time to support the development of social-emotional skills and teach life lessons. Arm them with the resources and funding needed to comfort students experiencing mental health issues.

If we the people do not endorse gun reform, we are subjecting millions of American men, women, and children alike to the cruel fate of an untimely death. The safety of our nation lies not only in the hands of gun reform, but in ours as well. We must contact our local legislators, participate in protests, and use our voice because it is more powerful than we may think. We preach that society should fight hate with love, so where is the logic in combating violence with guns that are the essence of brutality?