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Is arming teachers with guns the solution?

October 12, 2007

I didn’t bat an eye this week when I learned about the high school shooting and suicide in Cleveland, Ohio. Nor did I think very much about yesterday’s arrest of yet another teenager (and his mother???) with a Columbine-like plan in Pennsylvania. How did I become numb to this? When did shootings by students at high schools and colleges become just another part of the daily news?

I realize that if I were a teacher or otherwise worked in a school setting that I might feel differently–which is why I’m inclined to sympathize with Medford, Oregon high school teacher Shirley Katz, who is suing to be able to carry her gun to school. She feels that she is at a reasonable risk of being hurt in a school shooting or by her ex-husband – two serious worries.

High-school English teacher Shirley Katz won the first round of her legal bout for the right to carry a pistol onto school grounds when a judge said Thursday he would not dismiss her lawsuit against the school district.

Jackson County Circuit Judge G. Philip Arnold said he would issue a written opinion on Katz’s claim that Medford School District policy prohibiting teachers from carrying weapons on school grounds violates state law.

“On any given day, we would be naive to not acknowledge there are guns in schools,” Katz said after the hearing. “I am just the first one with a concealed-carry permit” to come out in public.

Cartoon on school shootingsThe Oregonian reports that she’s not alone in her pursuit; 25 teachers in Multnomah County hold a concealed weapon permit. Even though I sympathize with Katz, I’m not entirely sure that arming teachers is a good solution to dangers at school. I’ve always felt like more guns equals more killing and that increasing access to guns is bad. Susan Castillo, Superintendent of Public Instruction, feels the same way:

“I don’t see any reason to take a gun into any of our schools,” Castillo said. “Prohibitions exist. The Rose Garden and the Memorial Coliseum have bans. . . . Why would we have a lower standard of safety for our schoolchildren than the Trail Blazers?”

Point taken. I don’t see lots of teachers running out to get a concealed weapon to protect themselves from an increasingly common threat…but I see a mounting issue coming around how to better secure teachers and students from teenagers who are intent to make headlines with shootings at school.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. October 15, 2007 6:46 pm

    While I can sympathize with teachers not feeling as safe as they used to in the classroom, I don’t see how a teacher having a gun would prevent school shootings. Would a teacher with a gun run out into the hall to take out a shooter? It all seems like complete insanity. What are the root causes of this violence? There have always been disaffected teens, why are they suddenly willing to kill people? Media celebrity culture? If that’s the case, they’re becoming a bit cliche.

    • none permalink
      October 12, 2011 8:54 pm

      read about virginia tech and how the shooter methodically went from room to room and even came back to some rooms. gee, I don’t see how someone with concealed carry could have stopped that. Sure the shooting could have still happened but maybe the death toll would have stayed under double digits.

  2. Neologic Spasm permalink
    October 16, 2007 3:58 pm

    The con argument in this debate is pretty strong, I think: in the event of a student coming to school with the intent of shooting up his (or her, though I can’t think of any school shootings in which a female has been the perpetrator) classmates/teachers, adding a panicked teacher with a handgun into the equation could very seriously exacerbate the problem, and there’s no guarantee that they would even be able to aid the situation. Conversely, if a teacher is both armed and well-trained in the use of a firearm, a tragedy could be potentially averted. Certainly a difficult subject; I’m still on the fence about it.

  3. Will Von Wizzlepig permalink
    October 17, 2007 4:59 pm

    I don’t really have an opinion overall, however, the

    “Why would we have a lower standard of safety for our schoolchildren than the Trail Blazers?”

    comment is pure nonsense.

    If schools had bans that worked, the teachers would not need guns because no student had a gun, either.

    This, of course, would require the students to all be patted down on their way in to school. Yay for freedom.

    The promotion of fear- and a special fear, the fear of regular people just like ourselves- is a vicious circle, and a purposeful manipulation of human nature.

    If we’re busy hating and fearing what’s right outside our doors, we’ll never get around to forming that lynch mob to take out the real bad guys in the world.

  4. December 9, 2007 6:57 am

    Whether gun laws (bans or otherwise) work is completely irrelevant. Whether arming the victims or the faculty/staff of past school shootings would have saved their lives is completely irrelevant as well.

    The Second Amendment guarantees each and every one of them the right and the opportunity to be armed and try to defend him/herself. Any law abridging that right in any way is ILLEGAL.

  5. December 20, 2007 1:32 am

    I would like to see a continuation of the topic

  6. SHS jckt permalink
    March 10, 2008 5:05 pm

    I think some teachers should be able to carry guns. but of course i want to look into more of this. my criminal justice class is doing a debate on this subject.

  7. Brian permalink
    May 15, 2008 12:19 pm

    It should be noted that Katz does carry a weapon out of fear of a school shooting, but because she feels it is necessary to protect herself from her ex-husband, who was extremely abusive and threatened to kill her sometime after their separation.

    That aside, I don’t see anything wrong with teachers carrying firearms if they choose to. It’s a fact that “gun-free zones” do nothing to deter mass-murder shootings, as has been proven time and time again. People seem to forget that murder is already against the law, and people like Cho break that law anyway. The very least we can do is allow law abiding citizens the chance to protect themselves, if they choose to. While I don’t advocate an individual carrying a concealed weapon running out into the hall to confront a shooter, they can still keep the people in their own classroom safe.

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