Following the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida this month, there has been a huge push for action on gun control. You can feel it resonating all over America: this mass shooting has been the last straw and there is a scramble for change to make sure this never happens again. Proposals ranging from stricter gun laws to banning these deadly weapons entirely have been met by the complete opposite response: a suggestion from Trump to arm teachers with firearms.
Trump tweeted, “Armed Educators (and trusted people who work within a school) love our students and will protect them. Very smart people. Must be firearms adept & have annual training. Should get yearly bonus. Shootings will not happen again – a big & very inexpensive deterrent.”
Not only is this proposal, as the age old saying goes, fighting fire with fire, is also far beyond a teacher’s job description. Since when did teachers sign up to be the first line of defense in the case of a violent attack on their school? Teachers are employed to educate children, not kill or lay down their lives for them. Not to mention, how could you expect a teacher to obtain the proper training and real world experience it would require to properly handle such a dangerous, high pressure situations on top of the copious trainings they already do to excel at teaching their students? There is a reason that there are trained professionals who work tirelessly and practice how to respond in emergency situations. The burden should not be thrust onto the shoulders of our teachers on top of their many responsibilities.
In a country that has now had mass shootings in schools, clubs and concerts, avid gun right supporters immediately jump to blaming our inadequate school security. Arming teachers will not stop mass shootings, especially when schools are just some of the places that have been attacked. All it will be doing is putting firearms within a school setting and making them that much easier to obtain. Anti-gun control supporters have also cited a problem with children becoming desensitized to violence due to violent video games and media as a reason for these tragedies. But if your solution to the problem is to strap a gun onto the hip of our educators, then will that not make our youth even more desensitized to violence? Instead of terrifying the children of America through the presence of firearms in schools, what if we take them out of the picture so it is not even an option to think about? We should ensure that schools are a place for growth, learning and acceptance, not a place for war. This “solution” would not be helping to solve any of the problems on either side of the debate surrounding gun control. We need to focus on a prevention strategy rather than a last line of defense, such as increasing mental health awareness and treatment in schools or stricter gun control laws.
#armmewith the resources and funding needed to help students experiencing mental health issues, NOT guns. Teachers, now (more than ever) is the time to take and stand and say we will not accept another one of our students being lost to another senseless school shooting. We have to strive for MORE. Our students deserve it. Call, write, march… do whatever you can to show enough is enough— we NEED stronger gun laws, we NEED funding for mental health issues, we NEED our students to L I V E so they can change the future of this country. #resist #standup #guncontrol #enoughisenough #notonemore #gunsafety #schoolsafety #mentalhealth #teachertribe #iteachtoo #teachersmatter
Trump and the NRA are quick to blame mental illness, but they have done nothing to help this problem. With Trump revoking the Obama-era mental illness background check that was put in place after the Sandy Hook tragedy, it becomes increasingly clear that they are not planning on doing anything to fix the excuse they are so quick to use. By giving educators weapons as if funding an army, Trump is labeling those with mental illnesses as an enemy to wage war against. He would be making a militia of teachers to fight off our youth.
Throwing even more guns into the mix is a dangerous Band-Aid for Trump and our country. It is a way to satisfy the people’s cry for change while still securing himself funding and support from the NRA. He claims that he wants to give guns to the 20 percent of Americans that are gun adept teachers, which would be arming 350,000-700,000 educators. That’s a number equivalent to, or greater than, the number of personnel in the Army National Guard. Saying that this would be inexpensive is clearly a major underestimation on the part of the president and there would be much better uses for the funding than putting it into weapons.
In a movement called #armmewith teachers are taking to Twitter with what this money should go towards and what they really need to be “armed” with in schools. Many are calling Trump to arm them with “the resources and funding to help students experiencing mental health issues.” Our education system is struggling in more important ways, with teachers being underpaid and schools not having the funds for resources they need, such as textbooks and school lunches. Arm teachers with the ability to help children even more than they already do. Arm people with mental illness with the resources and support to receive help. Arm our citizens with open mindedness and acceptance. Do not arm us with weapons; arm us with change.
If you or anyone you know is passionate about gun control, I urge you to show your support at March For Our Lives this March.
Samantha Pierce is a contributor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.