President Trump’s call last week to provide select teachers with firearm training is a ludicrous notion stolen from the National Rifle Association playbook, a despicable document that values gun rights over human lives.
Trump’s not alone on this, in politics or the national at large. Alabama Rep. Will Ainsworth, R-Guntersville and a candidate for lieutenant governor, is sponsoring an arm-the-teachers bill in the state Legislature that roughly follows the president’s stance. “Our students do not need to be sitting ducks. Our teachers do not need to be defending themselves with a No. 2 pencil,” he said. Similar bills are making their ways through other states’ legislatures. Almost none of them address the common-sense options of banning sales of semi-automatic weapons, increasing background checks and providing additional funding for mental-health services.
The common thread: it’s the opinion of politicians, not educators.
We suggest listening to the words of America’s teachers, administrators, school resource officers and education advocates who have universally panned the idea of arming teachers in response to the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
Their opinions should matter.
Tom Kuroski, president of the Newtown Federation of Teachers: “It just shows you how removed (politicians) are from what happens in the classroom on a day-to-day basis.”
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers: “How would arming teachers even work? Would kindergarten teachers be carrying guns in holsters? Is every classroom now going to have a gun closet? Will it be locked? ... Anyone who pushes arming teachers doesn’t understand teachers and doesn’t understand our schools. Adding more guns to schools may create an illusion of safety, but in reality it would make our classrooms less safe.”
Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association: “Bringing more guns into our schools does nothing to protect our students and educators from gun violence. Our students need more books, art and music programs, nurses and school counselors; they do not need more guns in their classrooms. Parents and educators overwhelmingly reject the idea of arming school staff. Educators need to be focused on teaching our students. We need solutions that will keep guns out of the hands of those who want to use them to massacre innocent children and educators. Arming teachers does nothing to prevent that.”
Mo Canady, executive director of the National Association of School Resource Officers: “NASRO strongly recommends that no firearms be on a school campus except those carried by carefully selected, specially trained school resource officers (SROs), who are career law enforcement officers with sworn authority, deployed by employing police departments or agencies in community-oriented policing assignments to work in collaboration with schools.”
Jesse Sharkey, vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union: “You’ve got armed police in the schools. You’ve got metal detectors. Our schools are already militarized. Militarizing more is not the solution.”
Jim Gard, math teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School: “I would retire. If it gets to the point where we have to arm our teachers, then we have completely failed, completely failed as a society.”
If we were to agree with an Alabama politician on this arm-the-teachers craze, we’d side with U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Birmingham. “I think that’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard,” he said.