Senior Sentiments: Let’s keep guns out of schools

Teachers are supposed to be our role models, our parents away from home and, of course, our educators. They were never supposed to be our bulletproof vests.

Nowhere in their job description does it say they’ll have to protect a classroom of 20 from gunfire. But at some point over the last few years, this has become an unwritten requirement.

Where have we gone wrong as a society?

After our nation’s most recent mass shooting (and undoubtedly there are more to come), President Donald Trump introduced the idea that teachers should be trained to carry guns in their classrooms.

This came after the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed and another 14 were injured.

Not only do I think this training is a terrible idea, I also think this would cause many more problems.

Add it to the list of Trump ideas and rhetoric that is gradually making the U.S. the laughingstock of the Western world.

In an Oct. 11 Rider News editorial, I wrote that our nation’s mass-shooting crisis was mostly a mental health issue. I still feel that way. Stricter gun laws haven’t been passed yet for a reason; it hasn’t been for lack of trying. There is a huge portion of Americans who want to exercise their Second Amendment rights, and they’re entitled to it.

We have to work with what we have, and that leaves us with the responsibility of finding where eventual shooters became evil and then looking for similar signals in others.

Let’s put the bulk of this responsibility on the ones who have direct control over the future of America instead of giving teachers the ability to pull a trigger.

The federal government should set aside massive amounts of money to give teachers the resources they need to identify and deal with kids with mental health issues.

If a student decides to bring a semi-automatic weapon to school and kill his or her classmates, this is obviously the result of a lot of issues building up inside. There has to be signs.

Let’s look at Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old responsible for the Parkland shooting. In reports, neighbors and acquaintances described him as a violent, gloomy young man. He bounced around from school to school during his adolescent years.

Yet at no point could someone get through to him. The obvious signs were there; he even wrote on social media, “I want to shoot up a school” and posted pictures of guns and knives on his Instagram account.

Simply put, none of his teachers had the proper expertise to give Cruz the help he needed. Another avoidable instance led to more innocent people being killed in a place that should have been considered safe.

If any of the Parkland high school teachers were carrying guns, no good would have come from it. Most of the shooting was done in the hallways of the school’s Building 12, anyway. If a teacher would have run out and started firing, there’s a really good chance more fatalities would have occured.

Not to mention, one of the lone positives that came out of this was that Cruz wasn’t killed. Mass shooters typically take their own lives if they aren’t gunned down by authorities. At least we have Cruz in custody, so we can try to piece together what was going through his mind and what led him down this unspeakable path.

You can give a teacher all the training in the world to properly use a firearm, but can you really prepare anyone for the chaos of an actual emergency? In the moment, a teacher would have to react very quickly and a lot of things could go wrong that would prevent them from using the weapon effectively.

As a student, I simply would not feel safe knowing my teacher had a deadly weapon locked away somewhere. What if the wrong person got their hands on it? What if the gun accidentally went off?

How about the possibility that your teacher could be the bad guy? We live in a society now where no act of violence is out of the question. Is it really that far-fetched that a crazed person could go through the process of becoming a teacher, pass all the proper background checks, receive his or her mandatory gun training and then, after waiting for the right moment, wipe out an entire classroom or school?

If this idea became a reality, we’d only be waiting for our next disastrous headline and our next CNN phone notification that says a certain number of people were killed at a certain school in what is now the largest school shooting in U.S. history. I don’t know about you, but Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech were bad enough for me.

So let’s allow Trump to have his fun and let him pretend to sound important while he lays out all these absurd plans like letting teachers have guns. But in the meantime, let’s come together to figure out a way to really put an end to this crisis.

— Brandon Scalea

Executive editor of The Rider News

Printed in the 3/7/18 issue. 

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